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How to identify “ideal” early customers

So you have a solid idea, team, and market analysis under your belt, now it's time to accelerate the validation process. It's time to start selling. At this point you've made some noise with a set of friends that — let's be honest — are mostly there to support you. As long as you don't charge too much (or annoy them too much), they will likely be your customers. But, they are not the early customers that matter.

How to evaluate a market for your potential startup

So you have an idea, and you're in the process of convincing one or more people to co-found your company with you, now what? The next step is for you to do a much deeper evaluation of the market than you have probably done thus far in order to determine whether you should proceed.

How to compose a co-founder team

The number one reason why investors write checks to fund an early-stage startup is because of the team; most specifically, because of the CEO. Your startup will look very different in the not-so-distant future, so the insane people who give you money are really betting on you.

How to generate startup ideas

Ok, so you spend time looking at the green grass and mythical creatures over in startup fairytale land. Awesome. Now what?

How to create, grow, and fund a tech startup: an operational framework

Throughout the course of co-founding, advising, and investing in startups over the past couple of decades, my partners/advisors and I at Prota Ventures have developed the following practical operations framework to help founders through the early stages of startup life.

Clarifying the 5+ roles of a “Front-End Web Developer”

Anyone who has looked for a job in this area understands there is widespread confusion about who does what when it comes to designing user experiences (UX) and building user interfaces (UI) in a web browser.

How to build a simple email sign up form with Ruby on Rails

Continuing our Introduction to Web & Mobile Development tutorial series, here we'll learn how to build a simple email sign up feature. Unless you have strong business reasons to require users to only sign up via an Oauth provider such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc., it's best to at least allow your users to sign up directly with an email address.

How to merge HTML, CSS, and JavaScript into your Rails app

Continuing forward in our introduction to web and mobile development tutorial series, here we'll learn how to merge into our Rails app the basic HTML, CSS, and JavaScript that our UI designer (Tim) quickly built for us.

How to setup a Rails app for Test-Driven- and Behavior-Driven Development with Rspec and Capybara

Continuing forward in our introduction to web and mobile development tutorial series, here we'll learn how to prep our Rails app to begin writing code in a Test-Driven Development (TDD) and Behavior-Driven Development (BDD) paradigm.

How to design and prep a Ruby on Rails model architecture

Moving along in our web and mobile development series, here we'll discuss the process of prepping Ruby on Rails models before receiving HTML views, CSS, and initial JavaScript files (i.e. the “cutups”) from your designer to merge in to your app.

How to work with a visual designer to efficiently build mockups for your app

Next up in our intro to web and mobile development series, here we'll discuss how to move from wireframes to more detailed images of your user interface (i.e. the “mockups”). This may sound obvious, but the actual creation of mockups should be reserved for the most talented visual designer on your team. If you don't have a legit person for this, recruit one before attempting to move forward here (seriously).

How to build and iterate wireframes for modern app development

Moving forward in our web and mobile development introduction series, here we'll briefly walk through the process of building wireframes based on the UI Spec and UX Flow Chart we put together previously. Wireframe construction usually goes faster if the designer is the one doing the work, but regardless it should be a collaborative process with the entire founding team of your startup.

How to create a user experience flow chart (UX Flow Chart)

Next up in our web and mobile development tutorial series, here we'll examine the process of moving from a User Interface Spec to the construction of a flow chart that describes the detailed user experience (UX) through the app. This is where the engineer(s) and creative(s) must work closely together to decide what kind of software tools can best support the intended interfaces and click/swipe behavior, down to every last tab, tooltip, lightbox, icon, etc…

How to create a user interface specifications document (UI Spec)

Continuing forward in our web and mobile development tutorial series, here we'll take a look at what to do next after you have created an Overview Spec and before you create a UI Flow Chart. Coming up with the UI Spec is an essential step for the product lead (usually the same person as the CEO/project lead in a small startup), as it forces them to visualize a rough draft of the app and put it in writing for the team to kick around.

How to work with a visual designer to quickly produce a logo

Moving forward in our web and mobile development tutorial series, here we'll take a break from writing code and get back to the branding and visual design aspects of our app that we'll be building step-by-step together. Specifically, we'll look at the process of coming up with a suitable logo for launch (i.e. it always changes later, so relax and trust your designer).