The dorm room approach to running a startup

I had the privilege and pleasure of speaking to the new students at UW Velocity recently. I talked about “failing fast and often” as well as how we run things here at tinyHippos.  I focused on XP programming, TDD, and the importance of failing fast.

After leaving this great group of students, I got to thinking and remembering my university days. Back then I was quite poor and budgeting was a very important part of making it through the school term. I remembered a time when I was faced with making dinner for 5 people and our budget was a very strict $5. Now you might wonder exactly what we could possibly have eaten for $5? Well, we ended up having a great spaghetti and meat sauce meal and here’s how we put it together:

We went to the grocery store and picked up…

  • a package of spaghetti
  • a can of tomato paste
  • one onion
  • one (small) tomato
  • one package of ground beef (the fattiest cheapest pack we could find)

Total cost was $4.92 (don’t ask me why I remember that number).

Once we picked up the food, I had the guys stop at Wendy’s so that I can pick up salt and pepper packets, 4 packets of their hot sauce and some ketchup. I then had the guys stop Pizza Pizza where I picked up some of their garlic powder and Italian spices.

We made dinner that night and it was delicious!!!

The point I’m trying to make here is that, like in a startup, we had to spend money on the core ingredients. However, the items that added the most flavour, the ingredients that really made the meal…  were… absolutely free!!! Yes, we had to run around a bit to get them, but they made the meal :-)

So the moral of this little memory of mine is this: There are free resources all around you that are there to help you launch and grow your business. Advisors that are willing to sit down with you. Angels that will listen to what you have to say. Businesses that will give you free stuff you need! But… they won’t come to you! You have to go and find them! Here are some links to get you started:

I could probably fill 2 or 3 pages (perhaps a future post), I’ve only mentioned a few here, so please feel free to add your own in the comments.

Now… go build something awesome!

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2 Responses

  1. Fell out of bed feeling down. This has brhigteend my day!

  2. Great Post!

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