Archive | Startups

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PHP interns in Paris required

Posted on 13 April 2010 by Demian Turner

Soluo is looking for an intern in PHP Web Programming to join the development team in Paris. The focus of this internship will be the core developement of a SaaS Web Application. The intern should start by April 2010.

You will be involved in Web Application design and development, third-party integrations (Social Networks such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook) via Web Services / API / XML, development and integration of reporting tools, design and implementation of SQL databases.

We are offering an enriching experience, within a small and agile team, mentored by a senior architect. And hey, maybe you could end up joining the team? Forgot to ask how good is your sea-legs as you will be working in an amazing boat on the Seine. But don’t worry, you should get used to it within 2 weeks.

In this internship you will:
• develop sclalable, secured and reliable Web Applications
• integrate third-party applications
• use Social Web platforms to enhance the App (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, …)
• learn to optimise and enhance through iterations
• get satisfaction in seeing the product launch before the end of your internship
• learn and implement development best practices

You are:
• passionate about Web Application Development
• curious and proactive
• constantly reseraching innovative solutions
• enthusiastic about getting involved in a startup

You have:
• strong skills in PHP5 and MySQL and knowledge of at least one php framework
• experience in OOP, Test Driven Development and Agile Methods
• good system administration skills
• a good level of English

You like:
• being autonomous in your work
• working in small teams
• to speak/write English obviously
If you think this is you, just drop us an email at recrutement*_at_*, specifying the reference webdev1003.

Tell us about a challenging project you are proud of which you have realised in the framework of your studies. We will get back to you.

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Mobile workers can discover best places to work

Posted on 28 December 2009 by Demian Turner

Thanks to Pam for the heads up about this new app in the app store, WorkSnug.

WorkSnug uses Augmented Reality to connect mobile workers to the nearest and best places to work in the city. We’ve visited and rated hundreds of workspaces, assessing noise levels, power provision, community feel, even the quality of the coffee. London has been launched first. San Francisco, New York, Berlin, Madrid and several other cities are on the way in the coming weeks

Covered recently in Web Worker Daily, check out the video to see the app in action.

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5 Ways to Increase Engagement and Build Community

Posted on 13 May 2009 by Demian Turner

Some interesting slides from Mack Collier

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Take homes from Best Tech Entrepreneurs 2009

Posted on 25 April 2009 by Demian Turner


From the recent BusinessWeek article, I found the ‘lessons learned’ snippets at the end of each finalist very insightful:

  • BumpTop: “The key thing is, stay as lean as possible,” says Chief Executive Agarawala. “We don’t have fancy espresso machines or offer massage in the office. But we do have a team that’s motivated. Every full-time employee should have a meaningful stake in the company.”
  • Aster Data: “A lot of our customers buy Aster because we can add more business value to the bottom line,” says Argyros. “That’s a message that works inside and outside a recession.”
  • Foodzie: “If you always listen to the news, it’s easy to get disheartened,” says Chief Technology Officer Bauman. “What you need to do sometimes is disconnect and focus on what you can control.”
  • Cloudera: “In a down economy, less-than-stellar ideas get filtered out,” founder Bisciglia says. “We were really lucky—we cleared our funding right before the economy really turned down. So we’re much more focused on building things people need than on guessing.”
  • “The buck stops here,” says Fishkin, adding that he took a substantial salary cut at the onset of the economic downturn.
  • XChange: “You find ways to keep costs down,” Foley says. “Instead of buying things for cash, you give equity. Instead of buying all new computer systems, you might buy used systems. You find ways to stretch your dollars.”
  • WeatherBill: “You should always have multiple deals going on,” Friedberg says. “You should always have multiple partnerships available. You’re never there until you’re 100% there.”
  • AirBnB: “People are willing to try new things to save money, and they’re willing to be resourceful,” Chesky says.
  • Bleacher Report: “If the opportunity is to get 80% of the value out of something by doing 20% of the work, do it,” says Finocchio. “It’s not a time to screw around and be a perfectionist. When you have a strong vision for something and you’re passionate about it, it’s hard to cut yourself short of where your product needs to be. But you have to find that balance [between] quality and getting your stuff to market.”
  • Tumblr: “Most of the good decisions I’ve ever made I can credit to the smart people around me,” Karp says. “My role models and my mentors have made a lot smarter decisions than I have.”
  • Ooyala: “Hire the right people. Ultimately, it’s about the people. Any time that we’ve been unsure about a candidate—sure enough, six months down the line it didn’t work out.”
  • “Do what you’re passionate about,” says Lessin, who has seen a lot of friends at hedge funds lose their jobs. “I’m working hard at something I truly love.”
  • Brightkite: “It’s a lot harder to raise money in the downturn. You need to make sure that you have a way to differentiate yourself. For anybody thinking about a new startup, I’d recommend getting to a prototype stage earlier and show you can make revenue and show you have traction.”
  • Sentilla: “You have to adjust your business model as quickly as possible,” says Polastre. “A lot of companies aren’t able to articulate [return on investment], but that’s what people are buying, particularly in the IT space.”
  • SkyGrid: “Do one thing, and do it well. If you focus on doing one thing over five years, I think you will end up with more results people are looking for.”
  • GitHub: “People and companies like saving money,” Wanstrath says. “If you help them do that, they will give you their money.”
  • Appature: “Work with your customers to meet their evolving business needs,” Shahani says. “Every one of our customers is taking a different approach to managing limited budgets. We need to be able to support that with our technology.”
  • Cooliris: “It’s really important to focus on solving a fundamental problem,” Shoemaker says. “If you create something that’s really valuable, that’s probably the best way to survive. We exist to change the world.”
  • Sim Ops Studios: “Investors are looking for capital-effective companies,” Tellerman says. “You’ve got to be fast, hungry, and really lean, with fast time to revenue.”
  • Aardvark: “Reduce risk as much as you can,” Ventilla says. “That becomes doubly important in an economic downturn. Don’t have long whiteboard sessions with your other smart co-founders. Instead, get users’ feedback and pick the right thing to work on.”

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How to Get Your Start-Up Mentioned in TechCrunch

Posted on 05 April 2009 by Demian Turner

Thanks to the guys over at RentBits for these tips, and to Arrington for linking it 😉

  1. Develop a great product or service
    1. Why is your product different?
    2. What problem does it solve?
    3. Tell a Story
  2. Provide a frame of reference
    1. i.e The Zillow For Rentals
  3. Get their attention
    1. The editors of TechCrunch receive many emails a day. They should know exacly what your service or product does by reading the first two sentences of your email.
  4. Help them get to know you
    1. Add your company to CrunchBase
    2. Got technology news? Send them tips with a link to your blog post. We got two links to our blog from this and this post.
  5. Don’t use PR superlative “fluff”
    1. Stay away from terms like, “best”, “fastest”, “most”, etc. Also stay away from words like “revolutionary”, “web 2.0″, “leading”, “disruptive”

We got quite a bit of coverage with Kindo but that was mainly thanks to our huge backing – with Doris it will take a bit more effort 😉

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The Secret to Making Money Online

Posted on 29 November 2008 by Demian Turner

via David Heinemeier Hansson at Startup School 08. David Heinemeier Hansson, creator of the Ruby on Rails framework and Partner at 37Signals gives insight into creating a profitable startup company.

Check out the whole Startup School ’08 Series.

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Kindo Acquired by MyHeritage

Posted on 23 September 2008 by Demian Turner

I didn’t get a chance yet to blog about our last TechCrunching, but Kindo, the startup I co-founded in March 2007, today announced its sale to MyHeritage, the biggest player in the family tree space.

Kindo is a PHP social net app built on the Seagull framework and other open source software.  At peak popularity our users were building 38k profiles/day and we acquired more than 1m profiles in our first 10 weeks.  More details on my CV.

Hats off to the Kindo team and to the Kindo devs who don’t appear in the TC photo.

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What software do you use to run your business?

Posted on 09 September 2008 by Demian Turner

The problem

Increasingly I’m focusing less on cutting code and more on running a web development business.  While it can be painful not to get your hands dirty as often as you would like, there are great pleasures in seeing your business pick up momentum.

But one of the first factors that needs to be brought under control is time management for yourself and your employees, and general CRM.  The problem I’ve found is that the functionality scope of the various apps I’ve been using is wildly different from one to the next.  I need a level of baseline functionality from a single app, mainly because the overhead of sharing data between apps makes using multiple apps untenable.  I would still like to do as much coding as possible, and as we are in 2008, so there must be something out there that ticks all the basic boxes.

Well googling brought up very little.  What did have good results was this thread from the php-london ML, and direct feedback from a few colleagues.

Minimum requirements

Here are the baseline features I concluded were the minimum required to be useful for my small business

  • timesheets: ability for multiple employees to login and log their time against multiple clients and projects
  • client and project management handling: I don’t want a project management app, am very happy with Trac, but I do need to keep track of all my clients, the relevant contacts and the projects I’m running with each of them
  • invoicing: there’s no point in decoupling the time logging and how clients are billed
  • expenses: the above 3 features are available in the majority of software out there, desktop and web-based, but the minute you need to be able to record your expenses, eg costs associated with web hosting or software rental costs (not billable to clients), the choice dramatically reduces
  • balance sheet: this seems to be the killer question, if I know what I’m making on projects, and my business has a range of running costs, then surely I want to know what the operating profit is right?  The requirement for balance sheet functionality even more dramatically reduces the amount of options available

Let me just reiterate what I don’t want, to be clear.  I don’t want a detailed accounting app like Sage, Quickbooks, Quicken etc, but I do need to be able to know the bottom line for the business at any point.  I don’t want to have to import employee/contractor times from one app into another, or transfer across the value of invoices – who has time for that overhead?

Nice to haves

  • web-based: I think having the software available in a browser wherever I might be is invaluable, and with web2.0 style apps and the provider using a fast server, there should be very little difference to a desktop app.
  • decent customer service: if the customer service is crap, just forget it.  There is too much healthy competition around to have to settle for mediocre customer service.   You want to take my money for your product, make sure I am a happy customer.
  • multi-currency: I think in today’s economy it’s quite unusual to have clients in just one country or using a single currency

The contenders

Here’s the apps I evaluated and the various pro/cons of each.


studiometryStudiometry is a desktop app available for the Mac and PC.  The UI is a bit klunky, but for customer/project/timesheet management it’s great.  It was the best app I found first time around, was recommended by a few friends, and I would probably still be using it if it could track expenses and report on the business balance sheet.  It has a number of demo videos which hugely help learning the software, and let’s face it, if you have the choice between reading an enormous PDF or mimicking what you saw on a screencast, which would you choose?   Also for the record, these guys do not answer customer support requests took ten days to respond to my customer support request.


harvestHarvest is quite strongly recommended in the industry, and the interface is first rate, and for time-keeping it’s great.  However these guys don’t claim to do balance sheet handling so it’s not really fair to compare.  For timesheets and billing they’re pretty good.  Did I mention the UI was sweet?


basecampI don’t want to say too much about Basecamp because I know everyone is using it, and it’s probably bad luck to diss 37 Signals. But …. Well let’s start with the positives first.  For time tracking it’s great.  The UI is fantastic, and once you get to the time tracking page, it’s a pleasure to use.  But what about navigation?!  This app takes the prize for requiring the most clicks to get anything done.  I mean I read Getting Real is it was great, but they should practice what they preach.  I was even driven to mess around with bookmarklets just not to waste so much time using this app.  I seriously considered logging time wasted wrestling with the time-keeping app.  Ok, enough.  Wait – one more.  What’s up with Writeboards?  So klunky to load these notepads.  I can truthfully say I have migrated quite a number of people off Basecamp and onto Trac.


billingsBillings is another sexy looking app, recommended by some of the PHPlondon guys, but ultimately it’s way too simplistic to be useful.  It’s a Mac only desktop app, and after using Studiometry for several months I wish the Studiometry guys would look at Billings and get some interface ideas.  But it handles time-keeping, invoicing and basic client info only, and has a few dinky ideas like ‘add url’ button that let’s you add “urls” to your projects.  Better left out in my opinion.  You can do estimates with the app, and you get a status of the account, but only for a given project, not globally.


moneyworksMoneyworks looks like a decent accounting package and is reasonably priced, but seems a bit much for my needs.  I must be honest and say that I didn’t download the demo, but after looking at the screenshots I wasn’t too impressed.  Overall it seemed like a package more suitable for someone with an accounting background, which I don’t have.

Time Doctor

Screen Shot 2016-11-14 at 4.26.10 pmTime Doctor is an accurate time tracking and time management software that helps you get a lot more done each day. It is a web-based solution that provides time tracking, computer work session monitoring, reminders, screenshot recording, invoicing, reporting tools, integrations and so much more.


freshbooksFreshBooks is a very exciting app.  It’s widely used in the web industry, and for good reason.  The interface is fantastic and there’s a lot of functionality.  Not to mention the app has been around for ages and has gone through a lot of iterations presumably based on customer feedback.  And the customer service was excellent, best of the batch.  I exchanged a few emails with Grace who was very helpful but ultimately let me know that the 2 features I needed (recurring expenses and balance sheet) were not available.  But they were top of the feature request list 😉  This app to me looks like it’s done by 37 Signals, I guess on purpose, but FreshBooks operates out of Toronto.


kashflowKashflow was an interesting one.  They have all the features I listed above, and they’re even UK-based so great for businesses like mine.  They’re web-based which should be an advantage, but the UI looks stuck somewhere back in the 80’s.  And the logo is pink.  In fact the whole site is pink.  Not that I have anything against pink, but arguably it’s an unusual choice of colour for a business app.  But the functionality is there, even if it takes a bit of searching around to get to it.  In fact I think of all apps compared here Kashflow had the most functionality of the bunch.  Guys, drop the ASP frontend and hire my company to rebuild your product into a web2.0 app with PHP calling out to your extensive API – you won’t regret it.


quickenQuicken is a funny one – just read the comments 😉


Quickbooks is not far different.


facFreeAgent is where things start to change.  Wow was I impressed with this software.  A big thanks to Nigel James who suggested it and gets my 10% referral fee with a a free beer thrown in at the next PHPlondon 😉  FreeAgent is a very complete web-based accounting/timesheets/invoicing app that’s perfect for small businesses.  And if you’re based in the UK it’s even more strongly recommended, taking in its stride things like IR35 intermediaries legislation, VAT obligation, corporation tax due, National Insurance and PAYE payments, the list goes on.

FreeAgent handles all aspects of clients, projects, time-keeping, invoicing and expenses (one off and recurring).  This app is put together by a team that really understands accounting and what small businesses need.  It also lets you setup multiple bank accounts and manage reconciliations between what you invoice and what you collect.  Paypal import is supported.  Regarding income FreeAgent lets you track money you earn in terms of dividends or salary and will even guide you through the full setup of payroll for your employees, calculating Taxable Gross, Tax Code Tax, Employee NI, Net Pay, Employer NI and PAYE/NI Due to HMRC for you based on gross annually salary input.  The app will also do a self assessment for you  which can be used at the end of your limited company’s financial year.

But I think the main strength of FreeAgent is what you find under the Accounting tab.  Included are reports for monthly and yearly profit & loss, balance sheet, trial balance, dividend vouchers, capital assets and journal entries.  At any moment you can see exactly how your business is doing, how much corporate tax you owe, how many unpaid invoices there are, and how your monthly operating profit is performing.  There is also a great dashboard to greet you when you login with graphs of the various business metrics and notifications of priority matters.


In my opinion FreeAgent is the strongest of all the contenders here; it combines a balanced feature set with a great interface and a fair price.  It has one or two shortcomings to be fair, but not showstoppers.  For one employees can login to manage their own timesheets, but they get access to the entire business financials, effectively an admin login.  I suspect this will be addressed soon, I’ve certainly complained about it.  Secondly there’s currently no concept of tracking revenue by product or service.  This is very useful to have if your company provides a number of products as well as the usual grind of service work.  I don’t think it would be hard to integrate.

What’s your opinion?

Now you’ve heard my rather long-winded opinion, what are you experiences with accounting/invoicing software?  Have I missed any interesting stuff?  Have I left out any essential requirements?  It took a lot of time to research the current offerings and I would have loved to find a decent review so I hope the above is helpful to someone.

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Startups powered by Seagull:

Posted on 22 January 2008 by Demian Turner

Thanks to Fabio Bacigalupo for the following article, part of an upcoming mini-series about successful startups built on the Seagull platform.

Running a successful website is a constant balancing act between achieving good performance and scaling smoothly. Read how we have used the Seagull framework to build our portal As a start-up we provide a web-based service to find, comment, play and recommend audio and video podcasts. At the moment the service is intended for a German speaking audience only but we are prepared for internationalisation thanks to Seagull.

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Kindo releases a private beta

Posted on 19 September 2007 by Demian Turner

Our team at Technovated has been working very diligently for the
past few months to get a new application off the ground. Its called Kindo
and we have finally released a private beta. If you would like to get onto the beta testers list, then submit
your email address via the form on

We have also released a new blog on, so if you would like to keep up to date with our latest news, then please visit it. Comments are more than welcome ;)

Here are some snippets from two interesting posts on the Kindo blog

We’re having fun building the Kindo application and used a number of frameworks and components to achieve the finished result.

For the web framework we’re using Seagull which offers excellent
integration with Flash through the AMF PHP request handling and easy
integration with Ajax and Graphviz. For the Ajax interactions we use
jquery exclusively, for Graphviz a heavily extended version of the PEAR
lib of the same name. Working with the dot language has been
interesting and a good opportunity to experiment with the subtleties of
a genealogy graph.

A little while ago we released an Alpha to a small group of people,
to gather valuable user feedback. Thanks to those great people, we’ve
had our heads down improving Kindo, and as a result we’re releasing the
Beta, and at the same time opening it up to a wider audience for more

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