Lucas Baker is the co-founder of Hackermeter, the hacker resume.
We wrote some starter code for every language to get people started on the code challenges. When you’re in a flow state and rolling from question to question, it sucks to spend time rewriting an input parser, so we provide the boilerplate.
You wouldn’t believe how refreshing it is to rewatch an episode of Game of Thrones after a big feature push.
Seriously, though, switch hats at least once per day. If I fixed the backend in the morning, I’ll talk to customers in the afternoon, and vice versa.
We engage with everyone who provides us feedback, but actually we’ve been most amazed by how far users have gone for us. We’ve gotten emails from people who have done every code challenge, and took the time and trouble to list dozens of tweaks and changes to improve the experience. The best thing we can do for them is make sure the world (and Silicon Valley companies in particular) learns how fantastic they are.
I started out with an appallingly ineffective presentation for Demo Day, but my Co-Founder Frost as well as Geoff Ralston at YC provided amazing feedback (Geoff delivered my own pitch ten times as effectively as I ever had). I concluded that a good presentation requires you to do two things right: 1.) slow down and 2.) show evidence.
Our first complete product was a code screening tool, which eventually grew into the coding environment we have now. When we piloted it with companies, we took their feedback and made the tool conform exactly to their UX preferences – for example, allowing people to enter their own sample input just below the submit button. It turned out that what’s good for one team of hackers is good for all of them, and other companies we talked to signed up based on what we had built for the earliest ones individually.
We pivoted twice in a month – from a code-education platform to a code-screening service, and from that to a sourcing service.
Surprisingly, almost everything we built on the site in service of the previous iterations ended up factoring into our current product. So, in the end it worked out.
VCs can be techies too.
A surprising number of the people we talk to graduated in engineering, know how to code, and either were developers themselves or would be good enough to be hired through our own service.
Perhaps this is an effect of Google, LinkedIn, PayPal, and the other companies with powerful ex-developer armies, but it’s definitely a change for the better.
People like to play subtle by trying to infer from data alone what it was that caused a user to be unhappy, or a customer not to sign up, or an investor to say no.
Don’t – just ask.
The worst you’ll get is silence, and quite often you’ll get an honest response, even from someone who seemed reticent.
Investors always ask how Hackermeter differs from HackerRank, and I’m so used to hearing both names that I was afraid I’d say “HackerRank” during my Demo Day presentation. I didn’t, but when I was getting my presentation feedback after Alumni Demo Day the night before, I asked PG for the notes on HackerRank. “Well,” he said, “that’s a first.”
Trust your co-founders.
Everyone feels at some point that they haven’t done enough, and what they have done is broken, and what’s the point anyway? You’ll get through that because – and only because – your co-founders will support you and remind you of the dream you share.