Startup Engineering (Coursera / Stanford)

Startup Engineering by Coursera and Stanford University

Startup Engineering by Coursera and Stanford University

Some time ago – before starting this blog – I started the “Startup Engineering” Coursera MOOC course. It can be found at https://class.coursera.org/startup-001/class/index .
It is a really interesting “experiment” from Stanford University. It derives from an actual Stanford class related to startups and provides a fast-paced introduction to key tools and techniques:

  • command line
  • text editor
  • distributed version control
  • debugging, testing
  • reading code
  • deployments

Main target of the course is to create an online crowdfunding app from zero to an actual app!

Specifically, over the course and the homework assignments, you progressively develop a node.js-based crowdfunding application and populate it with your own startup idea. General principles are illustrated through Javascript / Node.js, Twitter Bootstrap, Git / Github, Heroku, AWS, HTML5, CSS, Bitcoin, Coffeescript. There are guest lecturers from top Silicon Valley startups (including Uber, Coinbase, Meteor, Square, Stripe, AirBnb, Twilio, Taskrabbit, Judicata, Counsyl, Twitter, and Asana). It also encompasses lectures focused on the design, marketing, and logistical aspects of operating your crowdfunder.
This week I finished the Homework 6 which follows the previous assignments where you were able to set up a basic HTML/CSS skeleton using Twitter Bootstrap. In this assignment you were able to make extensive use of distributed version control (git & github) of your code and a dev/staging/production flow. By combining git branches and separate servers for dev/staging/production allows us to thoroughly test changes to a website before rolling them out to end users.

1. Dev / Staging / Production flow

A quick overview of this flow is that you primarily edit code in the develop branch.
When you have a release candidate, git merge these edits into the staging branch and push to the staging server to preview what the live site should look like.
Finally, when that looks good, we git merge the changes into the master branch and push to the production server.
The overall concept is that edits should flow one way: from the develop to the staging and then to the master branch. Bugs get caught before they hit the live site, and you can now roll back to an earlier production release.

2. Social Sharing with AddThis.

It included basic frontend JS scripts to setup Social Sharing buttons with AddThis.com, one of the most popular relevant sites. It was really easy and fast and it has a feature of analytics for your links. Sign in – configure and grab the code! Highly recommended and noted!

3. Next was analytics.

You are guided to install Google Analytics. Nothing to add on this.

4. Finaly you set up payments with Coinbase.

Bitcoin (BTC) is a decentralized currency which will allow you to send and receive payments in any country without bureaucracy. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitcoin
Coinbase is a Bitcoin payment provider with no international restrictions on merchant accounts at the present time. Currently the best funded team in the space, one can think of them as “Paypal for Bitcoin”, or “Stripe for Bitcoin”. They provide both a simple way to buy Bitcoin and a fairly sophisticated API for running merchant accounts.

Overall

My overall view of the course is that is one excellent example for people want to make a startup from both engineering / business point of view. The specific Homework gave me a lot of insights on the relevant matters.
My current status is http://gps13-bitstarter-mooc.herokuapp.com/

Source from:Balaji S. Srinivasan, Vijay S. Pande and Coursera / Stanford University

George Psistakis

I love technology and working with people. That is why I am trying to offer as much as I can at the local startup ecosystem and at the same time building Apirise. A platform to reduce time and effort required to integrate and maintain APIs. Simply, fast and efficiently!
I am co-organizer of the Agile Greece and API Athens meetups and I contribute at the Developer Economics Blog.


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