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Right on, you got the title right. While I’m helping large companies implementing startup techniques in their work culture, it always leaves me surprised how young upstarts have an attitude towards learning from anyone else.

If you are a startup though, you shouldn’t forget that corporates are entrepreneurs too – they are just a bit different. And those differences are not necessarily all that bad; there are at least a few lessons you can take away from them.

So what secrets can startups learn from a big mammoth? Here are my favourites.

The company structure

Regardless of what type of structure the age dictates, be it a bureaucratic hierarchy or an upside-down pyramid: having one is a must. Responsibilities and rights management make life easier, especially when it comes to avoiding conflicts.

(If you are now thinking that as a one-man-show you are safe, here is another lesson for you to start with: learn how to delegate. Hiring an online assistant for a few hours a week will give you the opportunity to focus on what you are the best at – and eventually, to make more money.)

Within startups, it’s quite common to see programmers and graphic designers fighting over marketing questions. The reason is simple: there is no marketing guy in the team, and no one else has the right to make a decision alone. Working in such a structure is not only inefficient, but has a bad influence on the work morale too.

Clearly, the more people work together, the more support they will need on the management side, increasing overhead, making the hierarchy more complicated. All this is very unnatural for upstarts, but as the company grows, these questions will arise. The sooner you have the answer for them, the easier the transformation will be.

Planning ahead

Do you know exactly, how long you have been working on this product? Do you know how much more time you would need to finish it? Do you have a marketing budget?

Most startups have difficulties answering these simple questions. Some can’t even tell how much money they will need to finish their only project. And even when they have the numbers, those are far from being usable: costs usually include everything around the development but not the product launch costs, maintenance, support, marketing (and sooo on).

Planning ahead is not easy, and any system that aims such has to be extremely flexible. Large corporates tend to suffer from strict policies, forcing managers to do those little cheats: buying chairs of the marketing budgets and what not.

Ignore the math early though, and it will put you in serious trouble later: imagine running out of cash the moment you finished the product – and with a zero marketing budget, you will eventually reach no one. Maybe except from those you are friends with on Facebook.

Good planning won’t save you from being unlucky. But at least, you will know when you are in the need of making a decision. When the project exceeds the budget only halfway through, you can decide to freeze the features, cut some of the marketing costs or handle the situation in any other way. Without budget expectations, you might learn about running out of cash too late – and end up with no money, no product – and no plan.

Information management

How many people do know about the company’s assets? Who has access to the bank statements? Who do your clients trust?

What happens if those people leave?

You may not be surprised how much it can cost you if a trusted employee leaves the company – but you surely would be surprised to know how much of that cost could be reduced by utilising the right concepts.

Corporates have to handle a huge fluctuation of employees and board members – and each time someone leaves, it turns out that none of those guys were irreplaceable. Everything works fine without them too, and – unless the ones just left are fishing in the dark -, the company’s assets and products are safe too.

The way they do that is having the responsibilities and rights set ahead. From this article’s point of view, it really doesn’t matter if you want your startup to be a place where everyone knows about everything, or, a company with strict data security policies.

The only thing important is being prepared to replace every single person – even a board member or a co-founder -, with having clear responsibilities and being ready to give and revoke access to any asset.

Using the right tools

Yes, large companies have a lot of cash. You can argue that for them better computers and a few more test devices cost almost nothing, or that they can share everything between many projects and employees.

There is nothing against being creative though. There is no need to buy a 3D printer to use one, and one of the big advantages of using co-working offices is to work close to similar startups. You can ask them to test your products, or lend each other all sorts of resources: graphic designers seem to be working on all sorts of projects in their empty hours.

The same goes to online tools.

Software, infrastructure, marketing is for free, one can say. Except that is usually not true. Surely, there are great opportunities out there, and the best form of advertising – word of mouth – is also free. But in most cases, you will end up investing something more important: your time.

Creating a circle around you where everyone shares their discoveries, newly utilised tools or just explains the ones you don’t have time trying out, is a good way to make the learning curves a little steeper. It doesn’t only feel great but is extremely helpful for everyone involved.

Think BIG

Large companies have huge numbers on the cost side – so they need to have big numbers in the income column too. One of the upsides of running a startup is to be able to keep the costs low – but it doesn’t mean you need to keep your income low as well.

As a startup, you are probably trying to find a nice niche in the market. But one of the reasons you have the opportunity to fill up your gap is that it is – a gap. A small, tiny piece of the whole cake. Now, it might be a really profitable segment and a very tasty slice, but there is a high chance that the whole cake would feed many more mouth.

There are plenty of reasons for being unable to immediately go for bigger ventures of course. It’s very unlikely for example, that an upstart animation studio would get the next feature-film deal from Disney. These trust issues and other obstacles can usually be hacked though, and the opportunities are always there. They are there for the ones who are looking.

So, keep looking.
Keep learning.

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Being vegetarian is awesome. Living with a smaller footprint and in harmony with the environment, contributing to a more sustainable life while taking good care of your health. Who doesn’t want this? This last New Years Eve I tried to remove meat from my diet altogether – just to find myself in misery a few months after.

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Do you know how much a coffee costs in Prague?

£5,40. That’s almost twice as much as it is in London.

Thanks to the snow and a missed connection, I’ve had unexpected hours to kill in Prague. I’ve bought some cakes, wrote this article – and realised the true value of Bitcoin.

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Being in the mobile software business in US or Europe, you might think that visiting an all-electronics fair in China is simply irrelevant. But it’s not.

This is a sneak peek into your future

Hong Kong Electronics Fair: tech insights for 2014 by Richard Dancsi
View of the Hong Kong Expo building from the Kowloon pier.

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On my latest trip in Asia I had the time to meet up with friends and go for a weekend getaway to Bintan, Indonesia. This is a truly beautiful island with gorgeous blue skies and a turquoise sea, so it’s no wonder that we took some pictures before jumping in the water. These photos then ended up being my wallpaper, bringing the summer to the cold Northern Europe. Please find the screens available for download below: Retina Macbook Pro (2560×1600) Macbook Air (1440×900) Original photos (slightly bigger than those above) To take the photos I was using my good old Nexus 4’s sub-awesome camera, hence the huge amount of noise. I tried to remove that with some lightweight Photoshop editing, and then doctored a somewhat more natural, diapositive-like colour too. I’m quite happy with the Cereal Magazine style, but feel free to argue on Twitter. The wallpapers are free for

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It was a common pattern for iOS developers to create customised dialogs by attaching a subview to a standard UIAlertView. With iOS7 however, Apple removed this feature and developers are left without a dialog pattern that matches the iPhone UI. As a solution, I wrote an open source class to create an iOS7-style dialog which can be extended with any UIViews or buttons. The animations and the looks are copied too, and no images or other resources are needed. You can just grab the open source code from Github now. In this article I will write about the implementation best practices and some background info. Extend your current AlertView code to support iOS7 To create an AlertView with a custom subview, you probably wrote something similar to this: And you did probably reset the frame in the delegate method willPresentAlertView too. This was working on all previous iOS versions. On

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How taking short-time projects will make you a better developer, and how managers should hire those brains to give a long lasting boost to the software team. Being a good developer doesn’t end with having a deep understanding in the technologies and languages you use. It goes even further than knowing the ins-and-outs of the tools, patterns and algorithms you utilise on a daily basis. To be a great developer you have to constantly research, and adapt the new solutions and technologies others invented. So if you are programming Java websites since university, the least you should do is writing some Android apps on the side. It might be the same language and tools, but you will surely end up looking into some UI/UX stuff that will broaden your mind and skill set. Corporates have a good reason to keep programmers dumb Experimenting with new technologies is not what usually

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Developing a new mobile application takes a lot of iterations: with every new version we are adding new features, polish the old ones, measure user acceptance – and react as fast as possible. However, with the long App Store submission process and the even longer period until Android users update their apps, it usually takes a while to experiment with new features. To find the features people will love is the key to win a whole lot of hearts: hearts, that belong to the new users. The faster you can find out what product the users really want, the better – that’s why marketers keep using A/B tests for almost everything. On mobile though, the free and paid split test solutions usually aim too much: they come with statistics, robust close-source SDKs (that crash all the time), and these services want you to commit for life and beyond. That’s why

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A jQuery Latitude and Longitude plugin to pick a location using Google Maps. Supports multiple maps. Works on touchscreen. Easy to customize markup and CSS. This is a demo page; the newest live demo will always be here. For the code, install instructions and to see how amazingly free it is, go to Github. Also, you might find other interesting things on my blog at wimagguc.com. The simplest form After every position change you’ll have the fresh lattitude, longitude and zoom values in the hidden fields. The “location_changed” event will also be fired with the gllLatlonPicker Node JQuery object as attribute. Move the marker, or double click on the map. Google Maps <fieldset class=”gllpLatlonPicker”> <div class=”gllpMap”>Google Maps</div> <input type=”hidden” class=”gllpLatitude”/> <input type=”hidden” class=”gllpLongitude”/> <input type=”hidden” class=”gllpZoom”/> </fieldset> Simple form with a Google Maps search field and default values If the search has results, the first element will appear on the

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A well written joke or a sharp illustration can make my day. I love Dilbert and other popular comics, but there are some more out there who very well deserve the spotlight. (Furthermore, if you are an aspiring cartoonist pop star like myself, following these guys can be great to learn new tricks and techniques.) Please welcome some of my favourite webcomics. Poorly Drawn Lines by Reza Farazmand Invisible Bread by Justin Boyd Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal by Zach Weiner Little Gamers by Christian Fundin & Pontus Madsen Noise to Signal by Rob Cottingham For this list, I considered indie everyone who looks indie. It’s not a real measurement I know – but if I made a mistake, it’s alright. The point here is to find awesome webcomic authors.

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