Why Accelerators Matter

(Albuquerque, New Mexico) – So I’m wrapping up a week-long accelerator program today: our pitch deck has been creatively destroyed over and over, we’ve made our pitch to a room of investors (both Angels and VCs), and in a couple of hours (New Mexico time) we will learn if we placed in the money among 8 other “creative” startups.

Time to unpack a few details. The accelerator is Creative Startups of Albuquerque, New Mexico, this is their second annual cohort, and we’re the only software startup among the nine startups. New Mexico has a strong, proud, and diverse community of “creatives” and artists of many sorts: Creative Startups’g goal is accelerating the success of creative entrepreneurs and economies by having 30-odd mentors (smart successful people) present and meet with these nine startup teams and founders, and introducing them to the tender mercies of VCs and Angels.

Tender mercies?

Actually yes. Unlike the typical startup accelerator programs you’ve heard of, let alone the dreaded (or at least I dreaded) Demo Days where your puppy-like startups gets tossed into a pool of sharks and the water runs red except for a very lucky few, the investors and mentors at Creative Startups have been wonderful, helpful, supportive, attentive and caring. These are not adjectives I as a (former) self-funded startup founder (SFSF) would have ever associated with VCs and their lesser brethren.

Well, you can learn something every day, You can learn something every day of every work hour if you immerse yourself in a setting with a bunch of really smart people with all sorts of experience – which is kind of the point of any Accelerator Program that lives up to their name.

So did it hurt?

Yes it did. We (TheRightMargin.com) started Monday with our killer pitch deck done, our messages on target and compelling, and perhaps a bit of cockiness coming from the center of the startup universe, San Francisco. We got our clocks cleaned, our deck murdered and our message clobbered within 48 hours as mentor after mentor tore into us in the nicest possible way (I’m thinking of you Lena! :)). But they didn’t just rip in and rain on our parade, they helped us understand the process, relationship and realities from their side of the table, the table where the money is. We sometimes quickly, usually painfully, but always with real support, learned how to turn the story of our utterly awesome software around so it would really matter and be worth the time of potential investors of money and time, aka potential investors and more importantly customers.

So get to the point already!

The point is that even if you publicly distain (and secretly are terrify by) investors, getting the opportunity to work with them and their like to understand your software, and your business, from their point of view is awesomely, totally worth it. The experience, with or without funding, if it’s focus is on the process of learning how to think like a real businessperson, will open your eyes. If you’re wondering would I recommend that next year you apply for Creative Startups, the answer is yes! And if you can’t get in, consider other accelerators only if it’s about the mentorship, constructive criticism, reality checks and yes, emotional validation they provide. The money is may be the end of the journey, but it really is all about the trip getting there.


read more
Bob WalshWhy Accelerators Matter

Rails Composer and Daniel Kehoe – well worth supporting!

Well, this Sunday evening was going to be the “official” launch of my brand-new side project, startupsuccessplanner.com. Like every rails app I’ve started in the past 3 years I was going to go start by going over to railsapp.com where Daniel Kehoe has been tirelessly making life immeasurably easier for people like me.

Rails tutorials, like fish left in the sun, do not age well. In fact, pretty much anything about Rails has a shelf life measured in weeks and months, not years. That’s why what Daniel has been doing with all of his tutorials and the many, many times he’s updated them is so important. Many rails developers use Daniel’s Rails Composer to kick start a new app – answer a dozen intelligent questions and 15 minutes later you’ve got an up-to-date Rails app with everything you want (your choice of bootstrap, foundation, stripe, rspec, etc., etc.) just the way you want it configured and ready for the secret sauce you’re going to add.

Now, Daniel is doing a small (already successful) Kickstarter campaign to take Rails Composer to the next level. I already know it’s going to be awesome, and I bought in a few minutes ago. You should too.

But that’s not why I’m writing this post right now.

Daniel reached out asking for some upvote love to his Hacker News post (” I Left My Heart in San Francisco: The Exile of a Digital Nomad“) about his very personal Medium story. So personal it hurt to read, mainly because of the many parallels in my life. It takes a brave man to tell the world what he did – and a braver man to despite all that’s been thrown his way to continue to strive to make it better for every open source developer.

So, read the story, upvote it on HN, and support Daniel’s Kickstarter project – you will be glad you did, and his project will make you a better developer.

read more
Bob WalshRails Composer and Daniel Kehoe – well worth supporting!

An interesting Amazon innovation


440px Small USPS Truck

I just saw something I never expected to see again: a mailman delivering a big heavy box to my doorstep on a Sunday afternoon. Seems Amazon has started using the USPS for big box deliveries seven days a week, at least here in California.

I’m hoping this marks a revitalization of the USPS who since 1775 have been doing their neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night delivery thing but in recent years has become a fading anachronism in the digital age.

Now, if the USPS wanted to pick up some easy change, they’d start selling a sticker you could put on your mailbox telling the carrier to filter out those crappy paper spam advertiser circulars.

read more
Bob WalshAn interesting Amazon innovation

Big Screen Sublime Text 3 – Cobalt2 theme is awesome.

Wes Bos' Cobalt2 SB3 Theme

Wes Bos’ Cobalt2 SB3 Theme

I happen to fall in the “there’s no such thing as too much screen” camp when it comes to writing code, which is why my setup is a iMac 27-inch with a Apple 27-inch display on one side and a cheapie HDMI screen on the other. And given I’m not in my twenties by a long shot, I want text sized, colored and contrasted just right for putting in multiple hours of coding.

Which is why I’m overjoyed that Wes Bos released today his Cobalt2 theme for Sublime Text 3. It raised the bar on what an SB3 theme was capable of, adding all sorts of  visual niceties that add up to a better coding experience. From the files with icons for their types to great contrast in the Command Palette, this is a joy to use.

One last thing before I let you run off to either your SB3’s Package Control or Wes’s github repo: If you’ve ever tried to change the sidebar font size and line spacing in Sublime Text 2 or 3, you know what a sheer hell it is – and most likely to break. In Cobalt2, it’s easy (no guarantees in other themes…):

  • If you use Package Control to install SB plugins, install PackageResourceViewer so you can poke around inside your installed plugins. See this SO Answer.
  • Then, after install Wes Bos’s Cobalt2, go to line 497 or so of the Cobalt2.sublime-theme file in the plugin and increase the font size. You might also want to go up to the // Sidebar tree entry and adjust row_padding, given the font.size you set. Then save the file.


read more
Bob WalshBig Screen Sublime Text 3 – Cobalt2 theme is awesome.

AmazonSmile – what a good idea!

Amazon started something a few months ago that didn’t get much attention, but should: It donates 1/2 percent of what you buy to your favorite charity when you buy through http://smile.amazon.com/.

First you pick a charity – they have almost a million national  and local charities to pick from. I picked Pets Lifeline. There is no step number 2 – Amazon does all the work, and it costs you zip.

The key is going to smile.amazon.com instead of your regular login, but there’s a Chrome extension that will do that for you.

There’s some limitations on what’s eligible – basically physical goods. Hopefully they will extend this program to Kindle Books and their video streaming service.



read more
Bob WalshAmazonSmile – what a good idea!

Motivation for creating over the long haul

One of my absolute favorite podcasters has hit a rough spot. If you do Rails, then you know Ryan Bates’s Railcasts that for six years have been absolute must-watch content. But lately, it’s clear they’ve become a labor, not a labor of love. “You have probably noticed there has been a lack of new episodes lately. I have found it increasingly difficult to produce content, and I’m not entirely sure why. The best way I can describe it is that I feel paralyzed under the pressures of work,” Ryan posted at Railscasts in the last day or two.

Maintaining your motivation for creating is way harder than creating, and creating is damn hard.

It’s the light at the end of the tunnel that turns out to be a freight train. How many great artists, writers, actors, musicians, developers become great, only to burn out, go dry, stop creating? Ever wonder why so many prolific, good bloggers who created great post after great post years ago have gone silent? Keeping your creative motivation going, day after day, creation after creation, is a stone cold bitch.

I don’t claim to be one of those great creatives, by the way, but I’ve gone through what they’ve gone through on a smaller scale. Still going through it, in fact. That’s why I wrote the following email to Ryan, and am posting it here, in the hopes that a) it will help Ryan, b) it will help other creative people keep creating and c) to remind myself about the perils of forgetting motivation is not something to take for granted or lightly.


Hi Ryan,

I and Patrick Foley did the Startup Success Podcast (http://startupsuccesspodcast.com/) for nearly 3 years before burning out. The pressure of getting a show out every week, meeting the expectations of so many people is non-trivial. First there’s the weight, and the weight gets heavier and heavier, squeezing out fun, then time off, then anything but self-imposed guilt because you’re not keeping up. That weight crushes out of you motivation to do the show, and you stop.

Here’s a few suggestions re getting back into it, if you so choose:

  • Top suggestion: get 4 shows in the can first. Knowing that you can take a break is a huge stress reducer. Building in that reserve means you can take time off. It’s your secret weapon to take the pressure off.
  • Vary the format. While you can do fantastic code tutorial podcasts, you deserve some variety. Go interview another really awesome developer and find out their tricks and issues. Go do a show about tools you like. Host a debate. Talk about php. Go wild! Get out of a rut. You have so much credibility  in the Ruby Community, practically any door will open to you.
  • Double your price – and offload all editing. I and thousands of others would happily pay you twice as much if that meant you could offload editing, responding to comments, etc. I at least want to learn how and what you think; that’s the product you sell: the rest is non-core and can easily be outsourced.
  • Connect more with your audience. Do an open hangout on a regular basis, read online your email from admiring viewers answering questions you’re interested in. Don’t underestimate or ignore just how much as humans the heartfelt admiration and respect of our peers refills your creative gas tank.
  • Make it a priority to understand how motivation works for creative people over the long haul. At a minimum, go read Dan Pink’s Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us and Steven Pressfield’s Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s Work. Motivation to create is very, very different than what most people think, and that difference is all the difference when it comes to creating over the long haul.

Anyway, hope this helps and looking forward to you’re return.


Bob Walsh

read more
Bob WalshMotivation for creating over the long haul

Two words. Get it. Focus@Will.com

I feel absolutely compelled to share something that has over the past week tripled my productivity: Focus@Will. This “productivity music service” will. Rock. Your. World. It’s that good. I find that when I’m coding away on PetSitterApp or DevNewsApp listening to this, I effortlessly slip into Flow and crank right through what I want to get done. At about triple the speed. This is an almost scary improvement over the halfway focused but easily distracted state I’ve been in for years.

Focus@Will can explain the science behind the profound effect music can have on your mental state, concentration, and focus; but what you need to know is that you will be more productive, less distracted, more focused, less self-interrupted with it. For $3.99 it’s a steal. Get it.

read more
Bob WalshTwo words. Get it. Focus@Will.com

Keeper emails from 21times.org

For the past week or so I’ve been getting these absolutely great startup advise emails from 21times. First there was Spencer Fry on How to Bootstrap, then awesome Patrick McKenzie on Running a Software Business on 5 Hours a Week, and then today Jason Baptiste on going from idea to launch in 8 steps. First person, detailed, great stuff. The kind of content you seldom see. Highly recommended.

read more
Bob WalshKeeper emails from 21times.org


Just posted show number 141 of the Startup Success Podcast – a great interview with Marc Nager, CEO of Startup Weekend and Pat’s last show as cohost as he goes on to founding his own startup, Tribbon. It feels really weird to stop doing something we’ve done together for pushing four years.

I just wanted to say thanks Pat! For sharing a dream, for countless hours whipping our raw interviews into shows, for putting up with me, for contributing above and beyond the call to the startup community. It’s been a hell of a lot of fun.

Next week, I’ll be putting the Startup Success Podcast into reruns, re-issuing some our best interviews over the past years. Pat and I did some really good interviews, and I think you’ll enjoy them. And stay tuned, there’s more changes coming!

read more
Bob WalshChanges…

They’re back!

The cold zombie hand of those who want to save you from the evils of the Internets are back: CISPA (Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act) will keep you safe from evil cyberterrorists, pornographers and copyright infringers. Just close your eyes, shut up, do as we say and go shopping.

Or not.

Spencer Belkofer of Lumin Consulting is ringing the alarm bells with this great infographic:
CISPA Infographic by Lumin Consulting


read more
Bob WalshThey’re back!