Big company people are used to delegation, resources at their disposal, and the benefit of a strong brand name. As startup people, we have none of that. Our job description is “whatever it takes.”
Like most founders, I wear a lot of hats at Aprizi. While I had been creating the product mockups in Balsamiq and Photoshop, I had not actually been implementing them. My CSS skills were very rudimentary, but we had a talented web-dev friend helping us out and this allowed me to focus on other important things. In our latest product push, however, he was not going to be available, so I had to decide whether to take the time to learn CSS or to pay someone to handle implementation for us.
We only raised $35K at the start of the year and had purposefully pushed off trying to raise more until this Fall. We choose our expenditures very carefully. In this case, it was far more useful to save cash for something I cannot do, such as our iPhone app, than something i can learn.
So I picked up a book, CSS: The Missing Manual from O’Reilly, and knuckled down for several days. To be honest, this is the first book on CSS that actually made sense to me. It felt painful to put other activities on hold, but the time investment really helped us leap forward once I got up the initial learning curve. I admit, wearing my scrappy “product designer” hat, I really enjoyed digging into the dev environment and making the changes I wanted without having to wait on anyone. It is the kind of thing you have to do as founder, but rarely can justify doing as CEO once you start growing, so I try to revel in it while I can.
On Friday, we put up a new beta version of Aprizi (for those lacking context, we’re trying to solve the problem of how much of a chore it is to discover great but smaller brands, boutiques and designers). We have some bugs to kill, and the personalization stuff has not really been put in yet, but it is a much better starting point.
I don’t bill myself as the best designer in the world, but I hope you like the new site.