By the highway

Guest to a life well lived

Moved blog to

It has been a long time, I wanted to make use of . The time has come 🙂

This blog, has been “officially” moved to . Maybe I will update it more frequently. At least, there are two new posts you might be interested in.

See you there.


Love, not Greed.

Last week was crazy for me – I’ve got invitation for interview, uh oh, from the Google them-self, along with 2 super cool Valley companies through Startup Life. I don’t think I am the super math/technie, who would get into the search giant, but chances landing a position in the startups seem quite prominent. I ‘ve started thinking.

Myself, I am super ambitious and greedy. I would not spend so much time studying, coding through the nights and hustling, if I didn’t want to move-in to my own Medieval castle at some point in my life. It was hard to compare opportunities in Helsinki and in Silicon Valley, thinking about long term possibilities. Moreover, it would be invaluable learning experience! Living conditions probably wouldn’t compare to Aalto campus and I would go even further from home, but experience and the network that could be developed in a startup with 1-9M USD backing would out-shine the difficulties.

Jumping out of the comfort zone, wouldn’t be a problem as well – I love challenges and adore travelling. Once, I have boarded a plane with work contract from suspicious company signed through the Internet and flown over the Atlantics on a short notice. This time it is much easier.

However, taking opportunities in one of these companies would mean compromising my dreams of becoming entrepreneur and delay it for at least a year. I love developing nice products, I am UX freak and walk an extra mile to polish details and make it work better. However, I hate myself for spending time away from the people, not hearing their stories and not trying to enjoy life together with others. My dream is to take leadership and produce value, conquer hearts and experience life worth a best seller autobiography. It is not a technology career.

Thinking about the momentum AntsLab has now, the network of entrepreneurs and developers, we have already developed and the mutual passion to go far beyond expectation that drives AntsLab – I could loose most of it, just because of the greed. Provided we won’t start hating each other with Claudio and manage to remain on the same page, I have no doubts we can do it and do it 10x bigger.

I decided that things take time to develop. Experience and true freedom of entrepreneur is what employment doesn’t provide, so there is no point trading it for money or career.

Android resources

Friend has asked, what resources do I use to learn about Android development, so I decided to put it up for public discussion.

Fist of all, is awesome. Although I’m the kind of guy, who would learn Java from Java API and would had his own headache, I want to emphasize that the Android’s website is just amazing. Not only it contains plenty of examples and articles on different aspects of OS and SDK, but it also updated frequently. Also, my humble advice is to check ApiDemo applications in every new SDK.

Second place to look at for me is Stack Overflow (or just Google and you will end up at SO anyway).

There are some good books on the Android:

Ones, who are comfortable spending some money to get more example code should look at Commons Ware bundles. He is a very active in Stack Overflow and Google Developers mailing list, so it must be worth it. Disclosure: havent’ done that yet 🙂

To get up to date information, I follow Android Developer’s blog, Reto Meier, Chet Haase, Roman Guy and some more Android developers and developer advocates on Google Reader, twitter and GPlus.

Sometimes you can’t get things done without looking at the Android SDK code and, in order to implement custom things, I’ve copied code of standard components a few times and hacked based on it.

How do you learn Android?

Challenge of building a vision

Although “rapid-prototyping” is everybody’s mantra, it is very non-trivial as you may be confused for too long time, not knowing what to build.

You need to understand the problem. The solution needs to be competent against alternatives and you need to know bad and good about them. Moreover, if you aim high, you want to follow the path that has long term prospects. The unique solutions would bring you there. Bringing yet another hardly different product to competitive market, harms your ability to differentiate and sustain customer. You need to standout and it is especially good if you can create something for the future. Map giga trends, go to the growing market and you will be more safe to make mistakes.

In theory this work fine.  In practice, it is probably too much for you to grasp. Thus, you end up searching for a balance between research and product creation, and hopefully sales. First money, be it investment or sales, are very hard. Moreover, it is hard to believe that you can process this overwhelming amount of information, needed to answer the question of sustainable and competitive advantage – the differentiating angle and position that would eventually earn you a place in the market.

So far, our answer was: not to stop building the product. Not to stop researching and reading everything about the area we are attacking. Not to stop making lists of prospective customers, contacting and talking to them. Not to run out of resources along the way.

Fear and vision

When bootstrapping you feel different emotions and have many causes to drive forward: fear, hunger, hope, strong belief in yourself. Regretfully, some of these emotions can harm your aim to build big things.

Of course, when you already on the road, hunger and fear of failure can help to become all-in and to work your way forward with great momentum. If you are hungry, you will fight. If the future is not pleasant, you will work your head down 16/7. Being all-in, enables to do archive impressive results and makes you proud of yourself. Being all-in and having achieved something, brings confidence in your ways of doing things.

Of course, it depend on how strong is your gut, however, hunger and fear can also constrain you a lot. Dreaming big, while bootstrapping and working your way through failures and small ventures requires some heavy self-confidence. Great example comes from famous role model – Steve Jobs, who was building his dreams while collecting bottles on campus and going for free food from Krishnas. My experience is that fear may make you more practical than you should be.

Probably, there are only two things that can sustain your ambition endlessly. You either believe in yourself and build up that heavy armor of self-confidence, or you carry a vision of better future in your heart . Riding the emotional roller-coaster, being tired after a hard work, family members and friends will test you many times with hard questions, but one of these two components will allow to keep going.

Just yesterday hard week brought some doubt in my head. However, it took me just a short while to remember what we are working on and that totally calmed me down. There is nothing better than understanding that you are working on something valuable.

Neccessity and growth

The last 12 months were quite hard for me. Coming to a new country  is hard. Doing Master studies, learning Android and seeking for a way to break even is not easy. Of course, I had time for side projects like Android Aalto and some time to party, and travel home, and go to USA for Startup Weekend Summit, but somehow psichologically I was constantly stressed and never knew, what is going to happen whenever I run out of savings. Thanks for the freelancing and university, I didn’t, despite being so close to it.

Happily, through sleepless nights and a lot of hustling and multi-tasking, I am now happy to share that I feel safe again. Future is clear and bright. First of all, a company from The Valley has agreed to accept me as intern for the summer. Secondly, we agreed that maybe I will able to do it in the winter, as it became obvious that  this summer with Claudio we are going to launch something. As we got accepted into Summer of Startups, we are getting into it fast. Finally, university would be happy to have me for the summer, which means that I will have money for holidays this year. Overall, still a lot of work, but it is the personal development I really appreciate and funds for living have been secured.

Feeling safe is strange. For around of 10 months, I steadily was running out of cash. I needn’t reasons why to do things: I wanted to have money for basic things and to return to the comfort level, I have been used to. Now, as future is brighter, the worries have been gone. So did the need to hustle. Probably, here lies the difference between neccessity entrepreneurship and growth entrepreneurship. When hunger is gone, only most wild ones continue on and get rich. Average middle class man, after he reaches “wealth saturation point”, he no longer seeks net growth, as the marginal effort needed to significantly increase prosperity is quite high. As you get happy with what you have, you slow down.

However, comming back to my values, I want to improve living for my family and society. There too many things that are wrong now: diseases, inequality, deaths, struggles.  No time to sit down if you care. I realised that I need to go outside my comfort zone, kick myself in the but and start building something that would have impact.

Just to remind myself of the teenage riot I had in my heart only  few years ago:

Verslo ir universistetų bendradarbiavimas didinant ICT konkurencingumą

Mintys kilusios diskusijoje Lithuanian IT Professionals grupėje LinkedIn.

Diskusijoje tarp visų kitų paminėtos tokios problemos:

  1. kvalifikuotų darbuotojų trukumas;
  2. maža studentų kvalifikacija;
  3. didelė darbuotojų auginimo rizika ir kaštai;
  4. pernelyg didelės mažai patirtį turinčių žmonių ambicijos dėl atlyginimo.

Galima laukti kol šias problemas už darbdavius išspręs kažkas kitas, o galima imtis aktyvios pozicijos ir užtikrinti sau geresnes darbuotojų paieškos sąlygas kelių metų laikotarpiu.

Manau, kiekviena kompanija planuojanti Lietuvoje veikti ilgesnį laikotarpį turėtų pagalvoti apie “ėjimą į universitetus”: apie dėstymą, pratybų vedimą, apie paramą universitetų programoms, studentų konkursams ir iniciatyvoms.

Pirmiausiai tai reikia daryti, vardan savo vardo vieÅ¡inimo – bÅ«damas studentas, apie įdarbinimo galimybes pirmiausiai sužinodavau iÅ¡ dėstytojų ir kursiokų. Nenuostabu, kad dėstant 4 dėstytojams iÅ¡ Sintagmos, 10% mano kurso karjerą pradėjo ten.

Taip pat, kaip kitaip studentui sužinoti kokios technologijos dabar aktualios? IÅ¡ mokslininkų-dėstytuvų klano, kurie jei ir dirba, tai visi vienoje kompanijoje (čia jau ne apie Sintagmą). Juo labiau, bÅ«tina kad verslas dalyvautų sudarant ir peržiÅ«rint specialybių programas. Atrodo, kad Barclays, Bluebridge ir Sintagma tai supranta, o dauguma LT kompanijų – ne.

Toliau, kodėl studentas galėtų programuoti laisvalaikiu? Tik dėl 3 priežasčių: a) galima užsidirbti b) tai įdomu c) investuoja į savo ateitį.

Jei studentui galima užsidirbti tik programuojant primityvias svetaines, jis tik tai ir darys su PHP ar Ruby, bet ne su .NET, Java ar Python (su retomis iÅ¡imtimis). Retas studentas programuos, nes tai įdomu – bÅ«ti programuotojų jau senai neberomantiÅ¡ka. Dėkui Bitei ir IBMui bei jų partneriams, kurie prieÅ¡ krizę darė programavimo konkursus – tokios iniciatyvos leidžia studentams tapti labiau konkurencingiems ir kelia motyvaciją.

Darbuotojo auginimas, kaip minėjote, tai brangus dalykas, skaičiuojamas tikriausiai tūkstančiais litų žmogui. Vieną kartą per metus skirdamos tūkstantį, kitą dėstymui, konkursų/iniciatyvų finansavimui, kompanijos investuotų ne į vieną studentą, bet į dešimtys ar šimtus bei gautų naudą iš viešinimo. Suma sumarum, manau, kad bent 20% rinkos dalyvių pastangomis galima būtų pakeisti situaciją.

Kaip padaryti kad studentai/nekvalifikuoti darbuotojai investuotų į ateitį ir nevadovautųsi iliuzijomis dėl atlyginimo? Manau, lengviausia tai pasiekti parodant koks atlyginimo skirtumas tarp SAP ar Websphere “konsultanto” ir PHP programuotojo. Jei pakeltumėte sudėtingesnių technologijų žinių suvokiamą naudą ir atskleisite realius rinkos atlyginimus, suteiksite motyvacijos ir sudaužysite iliuzijas. Horray, Adform!

Startup stages

In this post I would like to propose an informal model for distinguishing between startup stages. We often hear of one being startup, but how does some can say for sure if there is no definition? Also understanding of conditions for closing pre-startup stages is important to me as a growth company owner wannabe.

Pre-seed stage

It always starts either with a great idea or with bunch of cool people and of course having high expectations.  I stipulate that to close this stage you are to have at least two of the following:

  • An idea or a market chosen;
  • Bunch of people you could work with;

What is more I believe that you should have answered yourself several important questions. Such as:

  • Why are we going to succeed?
  • What are our strength and weaknesses?
  • What threats should we mitigate and what opportunities to take?

It may be the time for raising money from FFF: friends, family and fools. Being lean and agile, you may start with no money. Nonetheless, each of the teammates or just you, if working alone, has to decide and commit to the minimum number of hours and money he will spend on the project.

Read more…

What do talented developers need?

My answer for question, what prize is best for a application contest winners:

“Continued program with mentorship from more experienced developer or entrepreneurs. A study and reward program that would help developers, who have won the challenge to develop their application further. Perhaps, that program also should help developers to start their own business based on the software solution they have come up with.”

Survey on Intel Atom developer challenge.

What do you think?

Seed camp in Copenhagen!

To those who missed the great news, it is time to start celebrating the second seed camp foundation in Europe! This summer Startup Bootcamp will host 10 teams in Copenhagen this summer.

Applications are open till April 11
They will host face to face meeting starting March.
Camp is scheduled to start in June and last 3 months.

I updated my list of startup seed camps [In lithuanian].

ArcticStartups article

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