A toolbox to kickstart your career in early-stage tech. The Big Read, sponsored by Vodafone.
I was 16 when I first joined a startup in Boston.
I had hardly any tangible skills. I hadn’t a clue about venture capital. I didn’t even know what the word “startup” really meant. I just knew that ambitious little 16-year-old Kim wanted to learn, and learn fast.
That’s how I fell into the world of early-stage technology. It was an incredibly steep learning curve, and it took me years to feel comfortable with the terminology, the dialogue, the community, and the larger startup ecosystem. It was (and still occasionally is!) very intimidating.
As the Head of Platform at Frontline Ventures, I regularly speak at classes, lectures, and societies all throughout Dublin. I meet Irish students everyday going through the same learning process I went through as a university student just years ago. It is all testament to the vibrant startup culture growing from the bottom-up here.
This is the toolbox I wish someone had handed to me when I was 16 and a young student starting to think about joining a startup — from must-read blog posts to the online communities to the tools I should feel fluent in. I hope it helps accelerate your journey.
Must read resources:
-Frontline’s Irish Tech Startup Guide: a great introduction (if we do say so ourselves) of all the top startups, players, and communities in the Irish tech ecosystem. A good place to start — although we are due for an update! (At the Front Line is another great hub for more startup-related content and resources.)
–Dublin Startup City Guide: StartUs recently published a very comprehensive list of Dublin startup meetups, accelerators, coworking spaces, etc.
-A Student’s Guide to Startups: Love him or hate him, Paul Graham built Y Combinator into the force that it is today. He penned this famous essay in 2006 after a talk at MIT. It is a great place to start as you begin to think about your career.
-Startup Library: YC also put together this stellar collection of resources for founders.
-Breakout List: Published every quarter, the Breakout List outlines startups on a “breakout” trajectory (based on factors like network strength and momentum) that students/recent graduates should join. Mainly US-focused, but European companies are often included. Scott Sage of Seedcamp also recently created a European version.
Communities to engage:
–-Product Hunt: a fantastic hub to discover new products and features from all of your favourite companies. A Silicon Valley darling, PH has now become one of the top online places to launch exciting new products.
-Hacker News: an ever-involving forum of all things tech-related from the folks at Y Combinator. The more interesting articles and posts get upvoted daily.
-Reddit: This one is pretty obvious. Some of our favourite subreddits include /r/startups, /r/entrepreneur, and /r/venturecapital.
Tools you should know how to use:
-Slack: The Irish Tech Community is a great and active channel to join.
-Mailchimp (or any email marketing tool equivalent): Folks also really like TinyLetter for sending personal email updates.
-Google: Another obvious one, but you’d be surprised how many stumble on sending a calendar invite. You should have an expert grasp on the entire suite of Google products — Calendar, Docs, Drive, etc.
-Facebook/Twitter ads: simple enough to learn and an instant time-saver when you join a team.
-Skype/Hangouts: Again, this is less about the actual use of the platforms, and more around the etiquette. Always include your Skype handle/know how to correctly add a Hangout call to a calendar invite. When the receiver’s experience is seamless, it feels infinitely more professional.
Books to read:
-How to Start a Startup: a free 20-part video lecture on how to build your company from Stanford and YC. An eBook is also available.
-Coursera: here are some classes about startups.
-Codecademy: If you are non-technical, this is a great (and free!) starting point to understanding the mechanics/thinking behind writing code.
General Assembly: While there isn’t yet a Dublin campus, General Assembly creates online tutorials/courses for those looking to upskill in very specific ways.
-Udemy: another great online class resource. The Lean Startup Talk at Stanford continues to be hugely popular on the platform — and it’s free!
-Skillshare: Learn specific startup skills like email marketing and SEO. You will need to upgrade to access premium content, but it’s all very high quality.
Publications to read:
-Dublin Globe: Duh! Remember to sign up to receive the weekly digest to get all the best Irish tech content directly into your inbox.
-TechCrunch: a useful place to understand the more macro movements in the greater global technology ecosystem.
-Tech.eu: a great resource for European-focused technology news. Their newsletter is hugely helpful.
-Tech City News: If you want to learn more about what’s going on in London tech, this is the place.
-Silicon Republic: an Irish-born publication reporting on the latest technology news and releases. They also organise Inspirefest, an international event connecting STEM professionals around leadership, innovation, and diversity.
-The Next Web: again, a more broadly European-focused tech hub.
-Irish Tech News: Their Jobs page also gives you a good look into the Irish startups that are hiring.
Blogs to read:
-First Round Review: some of the most well-written and helpful startup content coming from a stellar US VC. While all of it may not be applicable to you as you start your career, the posts can give great context to what founders are thinking about everyday.
-GV Library: From the good folks at Google Ventures, a centralised hub of posts from the GV team and portfolio companies.
-Both Sides of the Table: Esteemed American VC Mark Suster writes prolifically about his learnings in early-stage tech and venture investing. A must-read for all students looking to learn more about larger industry trends.
-Tomasz Tunguz: If you’re thinking about starting/working for a SaaS (software-as-a-service) company, you need to be reading Tomasz’s posts.
-AVC: Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures is one of the most well-respected American VCs, having backed companies like Twitter, Etsy, Tumblr, and Kickstarter.
-Jason Calacanis: While undoubtedly a polarizing figure, Jason has become a fixture in Silicon Valley — organising the LAUNCH Festival and recording the ‘This Week in Startups’ podcast. His blog is a great place to read up on his opinions on all things startup.
-Sam Altman: You can learn more about the inner workings of Y Combinator and YC companies through Sam’s blog.
-Medium: Medium is a great resource for finding stellar startup content. Follow publications for a curated collection of posts — folks suggest on startups, Startup Lessons Learned, and #SWLH.
NB: You can also find an incredibly comprehensive collective of European VC blogs here.
-Startup Digest: a weekly newsletter collating all startup events in Dublin.
-Strictly VC: a daily newsletter outlining major movements in the venture capital industry — what companies are getting funded, acquired, etc. Mostly US-focused.
-Termsheet: Dan Primack of Fortune sends out this daily newsletter about private equity.
-Tech.eu: As mentioned above, Tech.eu’s weekly newsletter is a great snapshot of what’s going on in European tech.
-Startup Dublin: Dublin’s own Startup Commissioner Niamh Bushnell writes regularly about what’s going on in the local tech ecosystem.
-Launch Ticker: all the latest news in tech/startups delivered to your inbox everyday, in bite-sized Tweet-able form. Mostly US-focused.
-Mattermark Daily: an excellent newsletter from the team at Mattermark, who curates high-quality content from founders and investors all over the world.
NB: Be sure to subscribe to newsletters specific to the fields/sectors you have an interest in, i.e. All Things VR, AI Weekly, etc.
Social platforms to master:
-Twitter: This has 100% been the most helpful tool throughout my startup career. Twitter has completely leveled the playing field for students to have access to and dialogue with some of the world’s most incredible tech founders, investors, and thought leaders. Leverage the platform to read their thoughts, have a conversation, and, potentially, make an impression. You never know what a simple Twitter exchange can do for your career.
Personal website/portfolio: You should have a one-stop shop for potential employers/investors to learn about you. If you don’t know an ounce of code, you can build one in minutes with About.me, Flavors.me, Squarespace, Wix, etc.
-Any platforms related to showcasing your specific skillset: GitHub, Dribbble, Stack Exchange, etc.
Startup Grind: fireside chats with movers and shakers in Dublin tech. A paid event, but worth attending simply for the star power of the speakers.
-Startup Weekend: Create and build your own startup in the span of 72 hours. An excellent learning experience, I’d recommend attending one if you are interested in becoming a founder. There was a students’ edition in November 2015.
-DublinBeta: an evening of local startup pitches.
-Silicon Drinkabout Dublin: a ‘drink-up’ for friendly startup folks.
-Girl Geek Dinners: for meeting fellow badass ladies in technology.
-Meetup: Check Meetup for tech- and startup-related meetups near you. Most of these groups are organised on a voluntary basis, and there are incredible communities who are very open to newbies!
TheTwentyMinuteVC: really informative and bite-sized episodes with a good mix of European and US VCs.
-The Pitch: recordings of founders pitching investors their companies — live. US-focused.
Stanford eCorner: Stanford University has built an incredible archive of resources (eCorner) from their world-renowned entrepreneurship department. The podcasts are particularly good listening.
-Traction: The smart folks at NextView Ventures in Boston regularly produce these high-quality podcasts. Subscribe and give ’em a listen. US-focused.
-This Week in Startups: weekly startup stories with notable founders and investors. US-focused.
-Andreessen Horowitz: It wouldn’t be a startup podcast list without mentioning a16z.
-Product Hunt Radio: a podcast for makers by makers. The team at Product Hunt are recording conversations they have with PH community members whose products have been featured.
Interested in learning more about tech, but still unsure if it’s for you? I’m organising Startups 101 for Students in March 2016, alongside the Dublin Commissioner For Startups’ office.
I will be giving a short talk on how to break into startups, followed by a “No Stupid Questions” Q&A — an open forum for you to ask any and all questions, and nothing is considered silly.