These posts are from real questions on Tech Eye events. The discussions already helped real founders fix real projects — and we hope they can fix yours.

Negotiating with freelancers

There’s a night and day difference between good freelancers and bad ones.

From the many freelancers you’ll ever work with, only a select few will be truly amazing. They are not only good at what they do, but also understand you and understand your projects. They fill in the gaps when something is missing from the job description.

You’ll be better at spotting talent as you get more experience in hiring, but it’s still rare to find someone great. So if you find someone you can work with, do hang on to that relationship and treat it as treasure. With each completed job and every delivered project, working together will be easier. Working with tested partners is more efficient and more fun.

Approach each negotiation with this in mind.

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Free Servers & Other Resources

Tech companies often offer services with generous free tiers, to entice new users. Free trials are good for them, because they can drive word of mouth sales, and marketing doesn't get much cheaper than word of mouth.

For us, startups it's also gold, because we can experiment with all the tools without having to pay big bucks. Often you can build production-ready product on entirely free platforms.

(This blog is running on those, for example.)

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Buying MVPs Instead of Building Them

A startup’s job is to reach product-market fit. Before having product-market fit, that’s really the only thing startups should focus on.

You don’t “focus on” building a great product, you don’t “focus on” getting customers, you don’t “focus on” changing the world. You focus on building a business. A defensible business is the only way to survive in the long term.

All the other things are a side effect. Startups build great products, because that helps building a great business.

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Managing Artificial Intelligence Projects

Ever so often, first time founders surprise us with their ambition. It’s only fair, artificial intelligence works well in pitches, so you can use it to get more attention from VCs. And with the advent of AI frameworks such as TensorFlow, it’s easier to use AI than it’s ever been. Here’s how to think about getting the execution right.

There are two important differences between artificial intelligence projects and “regular” tech ones:

  1. Most artificial intelligence projects you’d want to embark on are heavily front-loaded. A lot of thought and effort has to be put into the first iterations, and you’ll only get to see the result much later.
  2. Artificial intelligence projects mostly fall in the research & development category. You never really know how long the research part will take before you come up with anything to sell.

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Learning to Delegate

One of the most useful things I've learned on my entrepreneurial journey is the importance to delegate.

Leadership is hard, because taking responsibility for other people's work is hard. It's not a small jump to being responsible for things you haven't done yourself.

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Making Good Tech Decisions Without Understanding Technology

Non-technical founders ask this question at almost all TechEye events. How can they hire developers to build a product, if they don't know what to put in the job specs in the first place?

It's hard to believe, but when you start out on an MVP, almost everything else is more important than the technology choices.

Just to make this point super clear. As long as you can build a product that people use, there really are no bad choices.

For sure, some technologies are better than others in a specific way, but bad tech is a problem you can fix later. Indeed, sometimes bad tech decisions can be an expensive problem to fix, but you can almost always fix it.

Not having customers is not a problem you can fix later.

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Setting Up Analytics For Customer Insights

I often read that startups need to collect user metrics from their apps and websites. Data is gold, these articles say. If companies only collected enough of it, data will help them understand their customers.

This is NOT applicable advice for startups right out the gate.

You really shouldn't worry about analytics on day one.

Instead, when launching a new product, use the simplest analytics available...

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Are Wireframes and Prototypes a Waste of Time?

It feels good to create wireframes. They look almost like an architect's blueprints. The single best reason to become an architect is that you can deal with these sexy drawings that have the power to create buildings.

Your blueprints have the power to create any digital product anyone can ever come up with.

But, you might not actually need them at all.

You see, mockups help people communicate design and workflow ideas to others. We use wireframes to explain the complex interactions that digital products often need. The more complex the idea, the harder the explaining will be.

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Idea Validation Checklist

Avoid working on the wrong product. In the long run, the direction of the effort matters more than its intensity.

A huge problem with software products is that we often end up building the wrong thing. In software, the goal post keeps moving fast. It seemed to be the right product three months ago. But, life happened, communication dropped and it's the wrong product now. So you wake up one morning and find that you've spent the last three months building A Big Nothing. This happens so often with software.

It's even worse to start on the wrong product from the get-go.

Let's also forget the notion of a blanket good idea. There's only: good idea, for a specific founder, at a specific time.

Product-market-founder fit is what we're all looking for. Sure, we're looking for an idea that can reach product-market fit. But it also has to make us want to jump out of bed in the morning, and start working towards it.

With no further ado, let's look at the idea validation checklist.

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Testing Freelancers with Trial Projects

Working with freelancers can be a super effective way to support any business. Or, it can be a waste of money and a terrible experience. It depends on your level of preparation and often, pure luck.

Who am I to tell you this? Over some 15 years, I've hired and worked with hundreds of freelancers. With some, we've worked on creatives: animation, billboards, TV ads and the like. I also managed a crazy number of digital products. Mobile apps, websites and portals, enterprise information systems, APIs, virtual reality, games. Any type and size of software product you can think of.

Anything from a budget of $10 to six big digits.

We’ve also helped companies build 100% remote organizations, all based on freelance talent. I personally believe that this is the future of work. And it’s a bright future as well. We just need to gain a little experience and caution to get it right.

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Richard Dancsi

Founder & Techie

Startup founder and management consultant with over 15 years experience in building technology teams, products and companies.