Front End vs. Back End Explained For Non-Technical Entrepreneurs

A founder’s guide for key aspects of the Front End and the Back End of their app.

Some of the first terms that you’ll be introduced to when entering the world of apps and tech startups are “front end” and “back end.” These are really important terms to understand, especially once you’re ready to get your app built.

Front end – Everything the user sees.

Your app’s “front end,” or as some of those who are more technical refer to as the “client side,” is the part of your app that your users see and interact with. Another relevant term that you may hear is “UI/UX” (you may just hear one or the other), which stands for user interface/user experience. Think of the screens of your app like an “interface” that users will have to “experience” (or interact with).

When you have an app idea, the screens that your users will see need to first be designed using a digital design software like Adobe Photoshop or Sketch (see an example below).

airbnb adobe photoshop

Once the designs are prepared, a developer who is skilled in HTML & CSS and/or Javascript (some popular frameworks are Angular JS and React JS) in the case of web or cross-platform development, Swift for native iOS development, or Java for native Android Development, will translate the screens into code.

Thus, your “front end” is born.

Back End – Everything Going On Behind The Scenes

Your app’s “back end,” also known as the “server side,” is pretty much everything else. While this part is not seen, is still plays an important role. Your back end serves to provide the functionality you need, like connecting with a database to store user account information, or integrating an API such as mapping.

The term “API,” which is short for “application programming interface,” is one that is important to understand. An API is generally understood as a compilation of the different “methods” or “web services” within an application. For example, the “Google Maps Directions API” is a service that calculates directions between locations. When building Google Maps, the developers built a back end that could easily be integrated into other applications, as it is on Uber for example. This is a smart, modern approach to building a back end.

app diagram

Without going into too much detail, your back end will typically consist of (at least) three simple parts – a server, an application, and a database. The server is basically a computer designed to store data and process requests for data, which may be stored in databases or codebases. As the name might suggest, a “database,” which you can think of like a big Excel sheet, stores parameterized data, like names, emails, or phone numbers, in tables. While users interact with the front end of your app, the application, which is written in code and stored in a codebase, facilitates their communication with the database over the Internet.

With your back end in place, you have now integrated the functionality to support the features you need.

Do I need both?

When building an informational/promotional website, you may only need a front end to be developed. Particularly, if the site exists to simply display content but not provide any functionality or exchange any data, there is no use for a back end.

The case is different when building a “dynamic” web or mobile application, which will likely require some data transfer to manage different functionalities. When building a dynamic application, you will need both a front end and a back end. Some popular back end technologies are PHP, Node JS (Javascript framework), Ruby on Rails (Ruby framework), Python, or C#.

Some web developers have competencies in only front end or back end development. Similarly, most native mobile app developers will only have competencies in one platform, either iOS or Android, and may not have the competencies you need to build your entire app. Others, referred to as “full stack engineers,” have competencies in both front end and back end development.  Therefore, you need to figure out which back end and front end technologies your app development will require, and then ensure that you have both ends covered when hiring your developer(s).

Where do I start?

You need to start by identifying the best technology stack for what you’re trying to build. Beyond programming languages/frameworks, you need to determine which database technology, web server, and operating system you will use. Some examples of a full stack might be LAMP – which stands for Linux (Operating System), Apache (Web Server), MySQL (database), and PHP (programming language); or MEAN – which stands for MongoDB (database), Express JS (web framework), Angular JS (web framework), and Node JS (web framework).

If you don’t have a technical background, you should consult with a developer or a product person. Different technology can be used to achieve the same product, but with different consequences. You need to build with attention to different quality attributes like maintainability, scalability, and security, all while staying within your time and budget constraints.

When hiring a developer (which I’ve written a guide to here), it’s important that you speak to them about what technology they suggest you using, and why. The “why” is important, because a person or firm with competencies in only a certain type of technology will have an obvious bias. When speaking to a development shop, it’s not uncommon to be told, “We can definitely achieve this in PHP,” regardless of what your product is, simply because PHP developers are one of the most commoditized types of resources in the market, even though PHP may not be the best technology for your app’s implementation.

Your decision here can make or break things for your startup. It’s important to speak to someone who can guide you in the right direction. Click here to set up a 15-minute, no-obligation call with me.


angel investor techsuite

5 Ways To Raise Money Without an Angel Investor

How do I raise capital for my startup?

You’re walking down 21st St on your way to your job at 7am. All at the same time, you’re thinking about those spreadsheets you have to put together for that presentation, the evaluation form you’re about to receive from your boss, and…your billion dollar app idea. “I’m a hustler baby” by Jay-Z is playing in the background. One problem: you haven’t raised even a quarter of the necessary capital to start up. Sound familiar? Well guess what…

If you’re a hustler, you can do it.

angel investor techsuite

Bold statement, I know, but hear me out. If you plan to go into business, you have to be able to sell. And if you’re capable of selling, you’re more than capable of raising money. I understand that finding an angel investor, one that fits in with your vision and can guide you on the path to success, is either not in your current plans, or is taking a little longer than expected. It’s time to stop searching and start doing. I hereby present you with 5 ways to raise money without an Angel Investor:

1)         Crush it on Kickstarter.

“Crowdfunding, dude” is something you probably hear a lot when you tell your friends you’re looking to raise money. Thanks to sites (hyperlink) like Kickstarter, you can raise over a million dollars from complete strangers. The kick with this one, no pun intended, is the fact that you need to show your potential backers that it’s worth it, and that starts with a kick-ass blurb, a super-compelling explainer video, and a satisfactory reward once your product comes out. Yes, it’s true, technology is the least successful “category” on the platform, but 30% of tech projects get at least 20% funded, and that statistic proves it’s definitely worth a try.

2)         Friends, family, fast.

angel investor techsuite

This is the one that’s extremely overlooked. Data from Forbes and Entrepreneur suggests investors are less likely to invest if you haven’t raised FnF money, and 25% of all startup capital comes from here. When you think about it, this group is the easiest to convince to back you because they are already biased – they know you and (hopefully) love you. Show them a business plan and how they’re going to get their money back (and more) via a convertible note, and you may very well be on your way to your MVP faster than you thought. When it comes to best practices, it’s optimal to leave them out of your business operations, but by all means leverage their network and connections as much as you can to grow your company. If they see your passion and fire, they are more likely to back you financially, but make sure the expectations on how involved they’re going to be with the business are set from the start.

3)         Sell your stuff.

Maybe it’s time to head to your basement and see what’s down there. Who knows – maybe you’ll find a valuable item or two. I know it’s tough to part ways with your baseball card collection from when you were nine or that vase you received from your aunt seven years ago yet never found a place for, but be honest with yourself – will you ever have a use for this item? Does its sentimental value outweigh the value you’re getting in return a.k.a the ability to fund your venture? If the answer is no, you should check out I can personally relate to this one really well, because in order to start TechSuite as we know it today, I had to sell my entire sneaker collection. Yes, it was awesome to have the original Yeezys, but I only wore them once every few months, and I was much more excited by future growth. Point is, if you’re truly passionate about what you do, parting ways with your perceived valuables shouldn’t be too hard.

4)         Save up.

angel investor techsuite

Between your day job and your startup agency, you work 12-18 hours on any given day. Obviously, you deserve a reward for your hard work, and want to use your money to splurge a little, whether that be picking up a tab or two at the bar, or taking your special somebody to a nice restaurant. I’m all for enjoying the fruits of your labor, but this is another case where you have to decide what’s more important to you. To put it into perspective, saving just 500 dollars every week can get you a prototype within a month and an MVP within five, and there are plenty of budgeting apps to help you do this. Exeq (hyperlink) is one I’m personally super excited about.

5)         Start a business to fund your business.

This is my personal favorite one. Nothing screams hustler like buying low and selling high. In fact, I built up my sneaker collection through 3 strategies:

1)         Camping overnight for highly anticipated sneakers to get them for retail price, then reselling them for much higher when they would sell out.

2)         Buying a used sneaker for $100, then scouring Facebook groups for opportunities to keep trading up, until $100 turned into $1,000.

3)         Buying sneakers in bundles for “package deals” then reselling them individually.

This approach can be applied to almost any industry. In this case, it makes sense to have more of the “quick buck” mentality, because remember, you’re doing this to be able to back your real thing. I’d recommend checking out Alex Becker’s Youtube channel for more ideas on how to make quick money.

Mix and match.

You can definitely do more than one of these things at the same time as a means of raising money. Don’t put all your eggs in the same basket – by “diversifying your portfolio” of fundraising activities, you’re maximizing the chances that you reach your target amount. If your startup is your baby, you’ll hustle to make it happen. This could very well be what gets you to that next level, like a meeting with your dream Angel. Stay lean, stay scrappy, and keep grinding.


go to market strategy techsuite

The real reason your competitors are beating you to market (and how to respond).

Being slow to act on your idea may be one of the biggest mistake you’ll ever make.

We all hear it: the best ideas in the world evolve at the drawing board, but aren’t born there. The best ideas happen when we’re on the toilet, in the shower, or better yet, when we get screwed over by something or somebody, and we think to ourselves, “there’s gotta be a better way.

go to market strategy techsuite

Eminem thought of his alter ego, Slim Shady, on the toilet.

So to a similar entrepreneurial tune, in the first semester of my freshman year of college, I discovered a day-to-day problem that can be solved with a mobile app. I was determined to make it a reality, but I wasn’t technical, so I reached out to every developer I knew – out of those 10 or so people, none of them were interested. Not that they didn’t believe in the idea; they just simply didn’t have the time or the willingness to work on it with me when they could go do the same thing by themselves.

go to market strategy techsuite

Mark Zuckerberg, the hacker, wanted to do it without Winklevoss twins, the businessmen.

I was also definitely not considering an app development company– they were all way out of my budget, and after discovering and Upwork, my due diligence on cheap offshore freelancers had discouraged me. After all, I only had $6K saved up from selling sneakers and I wanted to make every dollar count.

go to market strategy techsuite

There’s a sub-par level of transparency in the software development industry.

So I waited. Waited for the semester to end so I would have more free time. Waited for a good, affordable developer to magically appear out of nowhere, but of course to no avail. By December, I had spoken to over 100 people that this product would benefit and they were all behind it. But I still couldn’t find a developer. Sound familiar? I decided to put the venture on hold until a dev came my way. Mistake number 1.

Stop waiting around for a miracle to happen. Act now.

Around spring break, I got a notification on my phone that one of my friends has invited me to download a certain app. Then I got another one. Then I got 15 more. I thought to myself, damn, if all these people are inviting me to join the app, it must be good.

When I opened it up and explored, I’m not kidding when I say that this app was almost identical to my idea. The difference was, it was on the market and mine wasn’t. The harsh reality is that no matter what your parents tell you when you’re growing up, your brilliance has the contention of many others.

go to market strategy techsuite

Your brilliance has the contention of many others.

In fact, there are thousands of people in the world right now that are experiencing the same day-to-day problems as you are and have a resemblant sense of how to fix them. If nobody had or has a similar idea to yours, chances are it’s probably not good enough. The only thing that really matters is whether you execute on it, and how you do so.

go to market strategy techsuite

There’s nothing wrong with some healthy competition.

When I saw this app, I immediately thought to myself it was too late, that I had missed the boat. Mistake number 2. Even if you’ve already lost first-mover advantage, all hope is not lost. Christopher Columbus wasn’t the first one to discover America, but you don’t see us celebrating Amerigo Vespucci Day.

Use the competitor that beat you to it to your advantage.

Go to the 3-4 star reviews of your competitor on the app store and see what users think should be improved/added/changed. Implement a different business model. Hustler harder than your competitor, be more inspiring in your message/mission/vision, be more creative in your design and in your copy, the list goes on and on.

go to market strategy techsuite

Facebook didn’t come first, but it crushed the competition.

I didn’t do any of this. I didn’t act on my idea at all. Needless to say, this app took off and grew rapidly, which posed a new real-life day-to-day problem for me: how do I stop entrepreneurs with more resources from beating me on the market? The solution is simple: make app development affordable and accessible for everyone with a great idea and a drive to make it happen. And this time I acted on my idea. I took the $6K I’d saved up from selling sneakers and made every penny worth it, so that everybody else can do the same. My idea has turned into TechSuite, and we’re changing the status quo for app development.

friends and family funding techsuite

Do you really need your friends and family behind your vision?

You don’t need support to get results.

You need results to get support.

When we make the decision to pursue our biggest ambitions and attempt to turn them into reality, we simply hope that our loved ones will always be right behind us giving us all the support and encouragement necessary to get through the tough times ahead. Ideally, your family and friends may be your early adopters for your product and even help you raise your first round of funding. Sadly, this may not always be the case, especially when it comes to entrepreneurship and building a business. When you reveal to your family and friends your business ambitions, some, if not most, will respond with  disapproval and explain to you all the reasons it won’t work. Most people, including myself have trouble grasping that truth at first, until you learn and find out that support from family and friends, while a great benefit to have, has no effect on your ability to achieve your goals.

While their opinion has no effect on your chances of success, here are three ways to navigate unsupportive family and friends.

friends and family funding techsuite

Support can be beneficial, but isn’t neccessary.

Support doesn’t dictate your outcome

Everywhere we look nowadays, we see inspiring stories of great entrepreneurs that have built remarkable businesses and products from the ground up, while simultaneously being told that a majority of businesses fail in their first 3 years. While this may inspire some to take action on their passion and build a business of great value to others, it can also make others think that building a successful business is an impossible task that should not be attempted. While support from friends and family in the initial stages of your journey can be very beneficial, such as emotional or financial support, it should never deter you from doing what you love, especially if you have a strong passion for your chosen path. When I first discussed my intentions to build a business, I was primarily met with disapproval with responses to include “It’s nearly impossible to build a business unless you’re a genius” or “it’s unstable, why not be a lawyer or doctor?”. As discouraging as it may have been to hear at first, I quickly learned that building a business is a very intense and personal experience, and the opinions of my family and friends mattered little in what I set out to accomplish. Having confidence in yourself and your team is what will ultimately carry you forward.  

friends and family funding techsuite

Patience- It takes time!

Progress takes time

Once you’ve made the decision to pursue your goals, you’ll quickly realize that entrepreneurship is a marathon and not a sprint. In order to create a great product for users, countless hours, days, weeks, months, and maybe even years of strategizing and executing will be required before any kind of real progress can be made. This can discourage your family as most people are used to fast results and instant gratification, which is never the case in business and building a great product/business. The most practical steps to take in getting your family and friends on board is to explain that building a great product or company is going to take some time, and walking them through your plan and vision for where you want to take your product or company will ease their worries about the lack of immediate results. While this may not work with all of your loved ones, this will resonate with the ones that truly want to see you succeed. Once my friends and I started working on building our company, my family took notice to my commitment and strong passion for the company, and as opposed to questioning my decision to pursue entrepreneurship, they slowly made the transition to asking questions such as “how are things going?” and “any exciting new projects?”. This marked an important transition for me because my family started to realize that I was in it for the long haul to build a great company, which allowed me to focus more on work as opposed to fending off their objections about entrepreneurship or lack of progress with our business.

friends and family funding techsuite

Results create supporters

It takes results to get support

At the end of the day, whether you choose to ignore the opinions and objections of your family and friends, or make the effort to get them onboard to support your goals, one simple thing will quickly make everyone that doubted your idea into a believer and supporter; Results! Everything before attaining results will be much more difficult as you will have nothing to show for your big talk of creating a game changing product or business, while visible results simply can’t be argued against. Contrary to what many beginners may think, it doesn’t take support to get results in entrepreneurship. It takes real results to garner support from your friends and family. Real results will shoot down everyone’s objections, negativity, and fears and will transform everyone into a believer of your product, family or not. When we started getting our first paying clients for our dev shop, my family started to believe and eventually support my ability to achieve what I had set out to do. The key was that I didn’t wait for their support to act because…it wasn’t necessary.

The energy spent trying to convince family and friends that they should support you and your ideas would be much better spent executing on your idea and building your product or business to where you can start achieving real results that will in turn make your family and friends support you in all future endeavors.

Hustle hard, attain results, and watch everyone who doubted you tell you how they always knew you could do it.

next level pitch event nyc techsuite

What we learned from hosting our first event.

Sooner or later, it’s going to make sense for your startup to hold an event. If done right, it’s a great way to gain exposure and make sales without coming across, well, salesy. The most successful events are usually ones that feature a prominent guest speaker, an accredited panel, or an exciting showcase. We did a pretty daring thing, incorporating all three aspects into our event that we hosted last week. And while this at face value may come across as a recipe for success, it’s a strategy with the greatest chance of something (or everything) going wrong. The good news is that we, and you, can learn from our mistakes the first time around. Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly from our event, and how we’re going to adjust next time.

What went well

1)  We predicted the turnout super accurately.

   Depending on where you read it, sources will tell you that out of all registrants, 40-60% will sign up. We decided to go with the worst case scenario, opting for 135 chairs for 334 registrants because we figured it’s better to have a full house with some people standing than having empty seats. We ended up having roughly 140 people show up, so if this is your first time hosting an event, I would very highly suggest using these metrics.

2)  Networking, networking, networking.

 Let’s face it; at the end of the day, as much as we attend events to learn or observe, we’re ultimately in it for the networking. The problem though is that many of us are inherently introverted, so at best, we’ll hold off until after the presentation to start up a conversation with an easier opener, like “so, what’d you think?” That wasn’t the case here though. It seemed like from the get-go, nobody was afraid to meet as many people as possible and make their presence felt. We hypothesize that it had something to do with the friendly, laid-back atmosphere of our host venue, WeWork. There, openers are super easy. You can start with something like “hey, do you know what kind of beer this is?” or “wow, this place looks super startupy, do you love it as much as I do?” Corny, but works every time.

3)  Social media.

 Hosting an event gives you the power to tell people what to do. Think about it – you have 100+ people in a room with all eyes on you. Leverage that. In our case, we just so happened to have an unused pair of Snapchat Spectacles lying around, so we decided to put them to good use. We decided to do a giveaway contest at the event, and in order to enter, you had to like us on Facebook and share our Livestream of the event. Let’s just say that since last Tuesday, our Facebook likes have almost doubled and we’ve reached over 5,000 viewers with our video. How’s that for free marketing?

Not so well

1)  Wine, beer, restroom?

 I’d say out of the 140 attendees, about 80% of them at one point or another asked where one of those three things is located. Unfortunately, we didn’t have wine, which ticked off multiple people for whatever reason. Additionally, half my time at the event was spent walking people to either the restroom or the kitchen. Easy solutions: supply the wine and have signs pointing to basic amenities.

2)  We fell well behind schedule.

Our presentation was set to start at 6:30, but people didn’t get settled in until 6:45. Moreso, we scheduled a showcase of 8 startups to pitch for 5 minutes each with 2 minutes of feedback from the judges. Nobody adhered to this, and understandably so. Many of the startups went too in-depth into their slides, often reiterating what was already on the board for the audience to see. The judges had awesome feedback and a lot to say, so they went overboard as well. After half of the startups had presented, we noticed the room was getting a little restless, so we held a short intermission, and watched as some spectators shuffled out. Lessons learned: A) Plan for the worst. Build your agenda around the event starting a little bit late. B) Have a timer. Make it obnoxiously obvious when the startups’ time is up. C) The feedback might have very well been the most valuable part of our event. Instead of shortening the feedback portion, perhaps subtract something from the agenda. D) Keep it engaging. Better to maintain a lively atmosphere than try to do damage control when you’ve already lost the crowd.

3)  Social media.

  It’s a blessing and a curse. While yes, we did get 5,000 impressions, we also had sub-par audio and lighting quality on the stream. We received countless messages and notifications asking us to fix it, and no matter what we tried to do it seemed like nothing was really working. While we still gained good exposure for TechSuite and WeWork, we did not achieve our goal of getting audience feedback for the startups. I can’t stress this enough: make sure there are no issues with the stream prior to the event. Set it up like a “dress rehearsal” with the same conditions and you should be fine.

Although I talk about problems and solutions in the context of our own event, they can very well be applied to most startup events. We’re willing to admit our own mistakes because we know that in the end, that’s how we improve. The main takeaway is, you can never really anticipate EVERY issue that may arise, but it’s important to be prepared for anything that might be thrown your way. Hopefully this article has made it easier for you to do just that.


innovation techsuite

The only way to truly accelerate innovation.

Democratizing quality product development.

Today’s best innovators, creators, and go-getters have a vision that we may never see come to fruition. That’s because in the current market, quality app development is still expensive and therefore not accessible for most bootstrapped or poorly funded startups. Opponents will say that commoditization of the market, which is saturated with foreign service providers, has driven prices down. Right now, you can go to Upwork or Freelancer and hire an offshore developer happy to work for your local minimum wage. At face value, this sounds like an ideal economy for young startups strapped for cash and looking to start building, but most founders will tell you that their product development aspirations are still out of reach.

The app development market is generally comprised of two types of companies. There are the boutique “dev shops” and the classic “IT services firms.” Dev shops are young and trendy, they tend to work in coworking spaces and do their best to embrace other young companies. Like a local clothing boutique, these dev shops sell the same thing anyone can get much cheaper if they really want to. There’s plenty of them here in NYC and I suggest that you contact them if you’re 100% comfortable with and financially ready for the $150-$200/hour “market rate.” The other type of agency brings the same pricing, if not higher, without any of the “startup friendliness” that dev shops try to give off, although I don’t think that hourly rate sounds very startup friendly anyways. A quick Google Search will give you some names but I only suggest you contact them if you were born before 1980 or have a PhD in Computer Science. I think you get the point.

Simply put, the existing product development options SUCK if you’re a startup founder.

These circumstances are not just a barrier to entry for startups, but a barrier to innovation for society. When considering how impactful these kinds of technologies are on the daily lives of so many people, it makes no sense to me how difficult it is for innovators to innovate. We all thrive when good ideas become realities, but the current market, as commoditized as it is, has not made it easy. Quality app development needs to be affordable for startup founders to be able to actually start up.

Say you have an app idea that you believe will revolutionize industry “x,” and you’re all in on the business but still short on cash. You’ve done your homework and are ready to start building. The common goal of all startup founders is to get to MVP, seek feedback and traction, and validate the business as quickly as possible. It’s time to innovate and disrupt the industry, but instead it’ll take you six months to a year just to raise the money to get started.

Why must everyone go the conventional route? It seems today that everyone is focused on raising VC. Some build to innovate but others build just to raise more money. What ever happened to the lean and scrappy startups? Perhaps we’ve all become victim to the industry standard which not just dictates rates, but determines which ideas will be built and which won’t. In a democratized app development economy, everyone can contribute to innovation and growth.

I grew up fiddling around with tech. I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I constantly wrote down ideas that I would later cross out for one reason or another. About two years ago, I had an app idea that I was finally ready to jump on. Of course I had a background as a web developer, but at this point in time I realized that in order for my future company to prosper, I would need to dedicate all my time to the business end and leave the product side to a trusted partner. I heard stories about working with freelancers that made me cringe, and received “high level” quotes from local agencies that left me beyond discouraged.

I never acted on that idea, and I tell that story because I know I’m not the only young entrepreneur that has dealt with that situation. Some believe that as the VC landscape continues to change, only the businesses worth funding will actually get funded, and perhaps that is correct. Maybe it’s for the better that I didn’t waste my time, but I can only wonder since I was never able to take my product idea anywhere. At this point in my life, I’ve committed myself to making quality product development for startups more affordable, so that other innovators don’t have to continue to deal with the same issues the current situation presents. Check out my site if you’re interested to learn how I’m doing that.

angel investor

9 Insights From Angel Investors About Raising Capital

Avoid early-stage startup pitfalls and secure the seed funding you need.

Not too long ago, I attended the App Idea Awards launch party. The event was at General Assembly in New York City and boasted an accredited lineup of top angel investors Jason E. Klein, Adam Quinton, Alicia Syrett, Zosia Ulatowski, and Jason Eiswerth.

Considering only 0.91 percent of startups are funded by angel investors and 57 percent of startups are funded by personal loans and credit, angel investors are looking for very specific information that will determine whether or not they choose to invest in your startup.

Below are some key takeaways from the event, including questions that everybody looking for funding should be prepared to answer.

Why are you doing what you’re doing?

Adam Quinton told the crowd that this is a question that he finds himself always asking. This gives the investor a deeper look into your mission and provides a story behind your passion. While seemingly a simple question, it does wonders for assessing one’s true commitment.

How can you differentiate beyond just different features?

Establish sustainable competitive advantage and prove it to the investors. Alicia Syrett stressed the importance of your entire concept and business model being unique. This will set you apart, showing investors that your company has longevity and won’t just be a one hit wonder.

Don’t just boast about how great your product is. Pitch the opportunities and benefits of joining the venture!

Time is limited when you pitch. Keep in mind that you’re selling the idea that the investor is joining you in business. You are not selling the product to them! When explaining the product, be thorough but concise.

This means elaborating on the product just enough so they understand how it works, but save enough time to talk about the business.

Don’t be too salesy. Refrain from saying things like “this is a one time opportunity.”

Although you may think that your idea is a “one time opportunity,” the investor will more than likely think otherwise. As I stated above, you are NOT selling them your product. Pitching arrogantly can be a major turnoff.

Know the specific TAM (total addressable market) size and your share.

Don’t be vague. Specify the exact market you’re attacking so the investor knows you are being realistic. Do your research to make accurate predictions of what your share of the market will be. This should largely determine the valuation you give. Although it’s hard to make perfect estimations, you want to show that you’ve put some thought into the numbers and they weren’t arbitrarily contrived. Consider these questions: Who are the leaders in your industry? Who are some direct competitors? What does your ideal customer look like?

Your Prototype/MVP needs traction. Speak with your customers/users.

Find potential users and ask for feedback. Collect the data about their experience with the use of the MVP. This will help you create a consumer base and refine the product. Presenting this feedback and discussing this information with the angel investor will benefit you and your business.

Have a long term vision.

Tell the investors how you see your business x years from now. If they are investing in your business, they want to know what the future will look like for you and your startup. And don’t forget to describe how you’re going to get there.

Have a really good sales and marketing plan and speak to people who know more than you.

Alicia Syrett really stressed this point. She explained that many entrepreneurs think that once they get funded, they’re set. They think word of mouth, connections, and some social media outreach will help spread their business idea to everyone. Unfortunately, especially in 2017, it doesn’t work like that. How will people find out about you? How will you beat out all of the other products being advertised online? Talk to marketers and those informed on the latest strategies for growth. Jason Klein cited the “if we build it, they will come” fallacy, pointing to the fact that a great product no longer ensures a great business.

Get to know the investor. Do your homework so you can relate to them.

When the investor asks you if you have any questions for them, don’t pass up this chance! Do some research before speaking to them and ask relevant questions. Your ability to do this well is another indicator of your talent and drive.

Moral of the story? There are so many factors at play when trying to convince an angel investor to come onboard. Most of the time, an entrepreneurs’ perceived chances of success are greater than in actuality. In fact, when surveyed, 81% of entrepreneurs believe their chances of success are at least 70%, but only 25% of startups succeed or make it past 5 years (Springer Link). Don’t expect every investor to understand and love your idea like you do. Explain everything and leave nothing to assumption.

If you have a great idea and want some feedback from investors, advisors, and other entrepreneurs, sign up for our pitch event. We’d love to see you there.


hire developer NYC

How to hire the best developer for your startup.

A guide to finding a web or mobile app programmer that fits in best with your company.

You’ve written your business plan, legally registered your company, made a Facebook page, and even started reaching out to potential investors. You have everything ready to go…besides your product. At some point or another, you’re going to have to commit to a developer. You’re looking for somebody with enough technical skills to execute, enough reliability to meet expectations, and enough communication to keep you in the loop. While these are some standard criteria, you also want somebody that identifies and aligns with your company’s brand and culture. Here’s a guide to make your hiring process a little easier.

Consider the options.

Most startup founders consider one of four basic options when hiring programming talent:

  1. Hire an hourly freelancer.
  2. Contract a dedicated developer.
  3. Partner with a “technical co-founder.”
  4. Outsource to an agency.

Each of these are a valid alternative to consider. The key is to find the one that is most suitable for each specific organization. The best way to start is to:

Weigh the pros and cons.

The Hourly Freelancer

Most startups generally consider the freelancer option as the cheapest and seemingly easiest hiring alternative. Sites like Upwork and Freelancer make it easy to unlock global talent that is hungry for work and will fight for your project, often even engaging in price wars. Receiving dozens of proposals, some within seconds of job posting is very flattering, but it creates two major points of concern before the project has even commenced. Most immediately, the applicant pool is too large. Even if the time is taken to message and speak to each freelancer who has bidded, the client still may have difficulty weeding through the mess to find the right one.

The second problem is that a great deal of the freelancers have submitted proposals after only skimming through or without even reading the requirements. I mean, how could someone provide a proper estimate in just seconds? The reality is that most of them couldn’t care less about the company and the project.They’re hungry for money and will say and do whatever it takes to get it. Someone with little interest is not likely to follow best practices and will instead take shortcuts and deliver a subpar product. If something goes wrong, an individual is much more difficult than a business to track down and pursue legal action against. If they are overseas, the contract likely amounts to nothing and the money and even the IP might never be recovered.

A good friend of mine shared a story a while back about a freelancer who quoted him one month and $2,000 for a project that ended up being six months and $10,000. Aside from the wasted time, the total costs after damage control exceeded the ones he would’ve incurred through a different route. It’s important to establish a sense of trust, but one should still take everything with a grain of salt. As the saying goes, “you get what you pay for.”

The Dedicated Developer

Contracting a dedicated developer for several months at a time can be a much better solution than making a salaried hire. This route allows the startup to make a temporary hire at wage rates that typically beat those of a freelancer (which can easily surpass $200-$250/hour for the best onshore talent). Many companies even use this as a “trial run” to help them decide if they should bring the developer on full time. While they can be a good addition to an already existing team, a few issues may arise. First, extensive interviewing and vetting is required, which is especially difficult for startups without much technical knowledge and experience.The same concerns apply once the hiring process is completed. Whomever is responsible for directing and overseeing the developer will need the right skills and experience for, as well as time to dedicate to this responsibility.

When contracting a dedicated developer, a startup’s hard-earned money can go to waste when scheduling conflicts arise. It is not uncommon for developers contracted for several months to deal with downtime, which often comes in between projects. I’ve had firsthand experience with developers who were contracted for three, six, twelve, or more months, and sat around for days or even weeks at a time waiting for work but still getting paid. This kind of waste can be a killer for startups.

The “Technical Co-Founder”

The “technical co-founder” route is especially popular among college and grad school startup founders looking to partner up with their more technologically-versed peers. This partner is usually willing to join the venture if they are interested in the concept and want equity in the company, therefore making it a more feasible option for startups that aren’t funded or are low on cash. Finding a good partner is hard enough, as the best talent will often be recruited by large tech companies for internships and full-time positions. Even if they intend to enter the startup ecosystem, they often have their own ideas and may feel that they are in not even in need of a partner. Take this story from Alexey Komissarouk, a CS senior at UPenn and contributor to TechCrunch, told in his article “Stop Looking For a Technical Co-founder”:

“‘How many of you want to start a company?’ David Tisch asked. All hundred hands went up. That’s why we were there, crowded into a Wharton classroom to seek startup advice from an industry luminary.

‘Keep your hand up if you are technical.’ Five hands remained. Maybe six.

‘Keep your hand up if you are looking for co-founders.’ The only remaining hand belonged to a CS freshman in the corner.”

Even if the founder manages to find a co-founder, greater concerns are posed, as they may lack all of the technical skill necessary for the startup, or may have trouble keeping the same commitment as the original founder. Startups take time to cultivate, and motivated people often look for other opportunities with greater rewards in sight. Komissarouk suggests in his article that founders can learn to code themselves, but it may take months to even garner a fundamental understanding. Take this quote from Tim Ferriss, entrepreneur and author of the “The 4-Hour Work Week”:

“Coding your own app, especially if you’re teaching yourself at the same time, will take too long… After all, the goal is to get your time back and escape the long hours of the rat race. Therefore, programmers will be the foundation of your business. They will allow you to create apps quickly and scale your efforts.”

Thus, the best route is probably:

The Outsourced Agency

Outsourcing is often seen as a complete relinquishing of control. Beyond this, companies often fear hidden costs or threats to security and confidentiality, amongst other things. A client can definitely expect to deal with some of these things from a poor agency. Clients have come to me with all of the outsourcing horror stories, from the companies constantly piling on extra “unforeseen” costs to the companies who delivered buggy code and then stopped responding or wanted more money to fix it.

Outsourcing can yield many more benefits than losses if it is done right though. A good agency brings all of the technical skills needed and internally manages the team to save time and ensure quality, thus allowing the company to use their own resources more efficiently and focus on what they do best. A good agency should also make the client aware of their processes and infrastructure in place. And finally, a good agency is also transparent throughout the entire experience, and will dedicate individuals to regularly communicate with the client, helping them keep control of the project. A flexible engagement model will allow the client to be hands-on and retain just as much control as they want.

The key to making the final buying decision is to find an agency that you’re comfortable and can afford to work with. This where many startups have trouble. Speaking to several agencies that offer the same core services can make it difficult to differentiate and shortlist them. For unfunded startups, or those low on cash, the best agencies are completely out of reach. This often forces startups to compromise one or more of their deal breakers, and make a decision that they will later regret.

A Different Breed

Startups need an agency that brings out the “pros” from each of these alternatives. A startup-friendly digital product development hub is of a different breed: trustworthy, affordable, efficient, and versatile, all without compromising on quality. On top of that, the agency must be understanding of the founders and their needs, add value beyond just development, and be as dedicated to the project as you are. I know what you’re thinking: “no such agency exists” or “this is too good to be true.” Allow me to point you to TechSuite, the hybrid for startup founders just like you that want it all. Check out our startup deck to see why we are a different breed.

ruby on rails development nyc

Why Is Ruby on Rails So Popular?

There’s no doubt that Ruby on Rails (AKA “RoR” or simply “Rails”) is one of the most demanded web application frameworks of today. Written in Ruby, this model-view-controlled (MVC) framework provides developers with default structures for a database, a web service, and web pages. It also facilitates the use of web standards, like JSON or XML for data transfer and HTML, CSS, and Javascript for user interfacing, as well as best practices, like writing RESTful code. Originally released as open source back in 2004, the framework reached a milestone in 2006 when Apple announced that it would ship RoR with Mac OS X v10.5 “Leopard.” After claiming TIOBE’s “Programming Language of 2006” title, the releases of Node.js and AngularJS in 2009 and 2010 seemed like the end for the Ruby programming language. As we enter 2017, you may wonder, “Why is Ruby on Rails so popular?” Some of the top companies in the world (Airbrb, Github, and Groupon to name a few) have adopted the technology and it’s not hard to understand why.

1. Rails is full stack

Unlike other languages like HTML/CSS, Javascipt, and Python, Rails covers both front-end and back-end development. An RoR developer can build a full web application without relying on another resource (while learning the other languages along the way), which makes it popular with startup companies.

2. Rails is built on Ruby, a dynamic and object-oriented language

This programmer-friendly framework removes the “lame” tasks and gives developers more time to focus on what’s cool. From handling database connections (goodbye SQL) to processing Ajax updates, Rails puts the developer first.

3. Rails cuts down on time to market

Development is rapid in Ruby on Rails. Ruby “gems” make common functionalities like user management and social feeds easy to integrate, which makes it perfect for CRM, CMS, or E-Commerce systems.

4. Rails has a great online community

The Ruby on Rails community is one of the most active ones out there. There are tons of conferences and meetups going on in every major city almost every day of the week. This makes it easy to find help for any of your projects. There are also a lot of online resources to pick up on this beginner-friendly framework.

If you’re looking to hire a great Ruby on Rails developer (onsite or remote) or are ready start your first project built with this exciting technology, look no further than

Samuel Corso is the CEO of TechSuite. He is passionate about bringing quality technology to business leaders and entrepreneurs.

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virtual reality vr development nyc

Tech Update: Up and Coming in 2017

How virtual reality is set to dominate this year.

This past Christmas, millions of people unwrapped virtual reality (VR) headsets, ready to dive into the exciting (and realistic) world of 360 video.

Using apps such as YouTube, Orbulus, Seene, and many more, users are put in front of a surreal video that is rather entertaining or even therapeutic gaming system. The headsets range in price from $10 to nearly $800. With shockingly realistic sound effects and images, the system is unlike anything technology has seen before.

Just two weeks ago, Facebook announced it would split Oculus (Mark Zuckerberg’s original plan for VR created in 2014) into two divisions, one focusing on PC-based VR, and the other on mobile (SOURCE: Top Tech News). With other companies working to further expand the technology of virtual reality; it’s definitely here to stay and only getting better.

Virtual reality is not only for gamers though. Virtual reality is also useful for architects and construction workers because it gives users the opportunity to become fully immersed in their surroundings. In fact, the gaming system can seem so realistic, that “it’s easy to completely lose your sense of place in the real world” (SOURCE: Metro UK).

Now, you might be thinking, why in the world are people spending money on such a scary device? Well, the fact is simple. They’re affordable, they’re entertaining, and they’re different. According to Forbes, “these mobile VR headsets are easy to use and work with many existing smartphones, which is appealing when compared to expensive high-end VR hardware”.

While America is becoming fully engaged in the world of the virtual reality, China is a couple steps ahead of the United States. China has adapted to VR cafes, VR pods, and more (SOURCE: Forbes). A survey completed by Niko Partners showed that more than 50% of Chinese gamers are interested in VR and “almost 30% are willing to spend up to $200 USD on a device, which is significant considering the average income in China hovers around $12,000 per year” (SOURCE: Forbes).

Alyssa Orcuilo is the Head of Marketing at TechSuite. She is passionate about graphic design and journalism.

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