Assaf ArkinCo-Founder at Broadly
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Ask me about product development, running Node.js in production, agile & lean development.



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The best strategy is simply to ask - ask politely, make it timely, and make it easy. There’s different review sites and different users are more apt to use their preferred site. So alternate or give options. Make it mobile friendly, as that will be a majority of traffic.

I would not have an incentive - that’s is definitely not allowed within the terms of service for review sites.

This is what we do for small businesses at http://Broadly.com and it works very well.


If your subject to US taxes, a lot of companies will take them upfront (withheld taxes). But if you're not a US citizen you shouldn't be subject to US taxes. If I remember correctly, they allow you to declare that exclusion when you open a seller's account.



Cost/benefit.

What part of the code do you need to test? We only test stable, consumer facing features. Those are the places where errors are costly (upset customers not coming back). Don't care so much for internal facing, or experiments, where we have higher tolerance for failure.

Some code is fundamental, good quality means faster iterations, so we refactor early and often. Most code has little dependency and worn change, so we leave it at that.

Code reviews are great way to increase quality and share learning, but again you can get both by only reviewing some of it (probably the same tested and refactored portions).

It all boils down to understanding that tests, refactoring, and code reviews have business value, and that value varies by code responsibility. So focus on areas that matter.


1. Give yourself permission to suck.
2. Go out and sell.
3. Ask yourself what went wrong.
4. Most likely you can Google an answer, or find a book on the topic.
5. Repeat.


People are motivated when they have a stake and a say. For that, they need to understand why they're doing what they're doing. So keep them informed. Not about every minute business detail, but also not about the end decisions (the what/how). Rather, share why decisions were made, why they matter, why they make a difference. And address their feedback.

Also, make sure you hire the right people. Look for passion and self-directed individuals.


Your business model is the difference between what the buyer is willing to pay, and what the seller is willing to accept. The key is pushing on both sides, getting customers to pay more (or pay more often), and getting sellers to accept higher fees, typically in exchange for moving more inventory.

Since you mentioned Airbnb, CL has apartment listing and it's quite popular, and there are no transaction fees. But it's a bit of a hassle to research a place, contact owner, schedule, make arrangements.

Airbnb makes is so convenient that people start renting apartments instead of hotel rooms. I didn't know they charge renters, but 3% is still much cheaper than hotel pricing.

At the other end, they deliver more booked days to property owners, you can take a surcharge if you help the property owner rent for more days out of the year.

So that's your typical business model: add convenience to one side, so you can move more inventory on the other side, for which you can charge a nice percentage.

As for open vs curated, consumers are risk averse, higher perceived quality results in more transactions and higher prices. Anything you can do to mitigate risk, whether its ratings/review, selective listing, insurance, etc.



This answer is directed at early stage startups, when you're in the business of finding out product/market fit. Shaving 5ms may increase revenues by 1%, but unless that 1% is a factor more than your yearly compensation, read on.

First, maximize distance between you and managing any infrastructure. Don't open a data center, don't buy servers, don't lease them, and don't even run EC2 instances or mess with EBS volumes. Out-source your infrastructure.

Second, when switching costs are low, make quick decisions. If it takes an hour to deploy your first app on a hosted platform, do the math: it takes an hour to switch to a different provider. Don't worry about picking the best, or what will happen when you grow. Decide early, decide often.

With that in mind, here are the services we use for development and in production right now. If you're wondering where to start, or not happy with one of your providers, check this list:

http://github.com/ for hosting code, documentation, and issue tracker. Developer docs are in Markdown and checked into source control; avoid the Wiki. If you need a friendly UI for editing docs, have a look at http://prose.io.

http://huboard.com/ is a Kanban-style board using Github issues as tasks. Good for small teams.

http://codeship.io is our CI. It picks up changed from Github, runs the test suite, deploys to production, and notifies us via email/HipChat.

http://hipchat.com/ is our water cooler, 1:1 chat, and we also feed it with notifications from Github, CI build status, production alerts, etc.

http://papertrailapp.com/ for logging.

http://rollbar.io for catching and reporting errors. You want errors emailed to you, but don't need 1,000 copies of the same error, and should be able to tell if error persists after deploying new code. There are many exception tracking services, Rollbar does a great job of balancing capabilities with simplicity.

http://pingdom.com/ will monitor if your server is up. Tip: setup alerts for multiple pages, check content not just status code, and monitor your HTML, CSS **and** JS assets.

http://deadmanssnitch.com/ will track your back-end jobs. Basically, jobs ping an HTTP endpoint on completion, DMS alerts if it hasn't seen a ping in a while. You can set different check rates for hourly jobs, daily jobs, etc.

http://pagerduty.com/ so your most important alerts get immediate attention, and for managing on-call rotation. You can integrate it with anything that can send an email (Pingdom, DMS, Rollbar, etc).

http://mixpanel.com/ for application/business metrics. If you need deep Web analytics (e.g. slice by screen resolution and OS version), or SEO, then Google Analytics is where you go. But if you're looking at feature usage, funnels, retention, customer segmentation, etc then MixPanel is the easier path to insight.

http://nodejitsu.com/ for deploying you Node.js Web app in production. I spent 5 minutes on this decision, because switching costs.

http://iron.io for back-end processing. Typically Web app platforms don't want to run your back-end jobs. iron.io offers queuing, including easy integration with Webhooks, scheduling, and place to run your workers.

http://mongohq.com/ for database. Note, you can provision a database directly from the Nodejistu Web console, but that only gives you app/shell access. If you create an account directly with MongoHQ, you get access to the wonderful Web console (great for sharing queries with the PM). I suspect this it the case with other platform/database add-on combos.

http://name.com/ as the registrar because it's OK, and as cheap as they come without being GoDaddy. Amazon Route53 for DNS because the UI is better, there's an API, and it integrates well with S3 and CloudFront, which we use for serving assets.

http://heroku.com/ is the granddaddy of Platform as a Service, but gets pricey fast and never quite grew on me. Regardless, it's often the easiest way to start, and if nothing else, when looking for a hosted service provider – maybe you need a Redis instance or a Graphite dashboard — start by checking out the Heroku add-on page.


Is your problem really that "our product doesn't use a framework"? Why is that an issue? What difference does it make?

Perhaps you feel that, using a framework, the team will be able to ship features faster, or get better performance, or higher code quality.

You'll be right. Sometimes. Frameworks have learning curves, and performance overhead, and maintenance costs. They're not always a positive gain.

And on the opposite side you see teams investing too much time on new tech, frameworks galore, instead of making progress to ship a working product.

As much as you feel your team leader is stuck in his ways, he may feel you're coming at him with a checklist of "hot shiny new tech" items you want to cross off, at the expense of delivering real value to customers.

So I suggest starting from the end, by looking at the outcome: are you building the right product? on time/budget? are customers happy? how's the quality?

And if the outcomes are off from where you expect them to be, start looking at what technology/people changes could help improve those outcomes.


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