How Hurricane Sandy Reminded Me Why I Love the Tech Industry

Hurricane Sandy
Vice President and Chief Maintenance Officer of New York City Transit and Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), Joseph Leader, inspects a flooded stairwell down to a platform beneath street level at the South Ferry-Whitehall Subway Terminal in lower Manhattan, which serves the 1, R and N subway lines, following Hurricane Sandy, Oct. 31, 2012.

Last week Hurricane Sandy pummeled through the North East, causing historic damage. Homes and businesses were destroyed and half of Manhattan was without power for most of last week, while some places continue to wait for power.

While the aftermath is horrific, the tech community’s reaction has been truly inspring. I just moved BrandYourself here from Syracuse and even though our new offices were completely out of power, I had a place to work and crash overnight within hours, without even having to ask. Zelkova ventures (one of our investors, @zelkovavc) was just one of many places who took in stranded startups, and although it was tight  you couldn’t help but feel the sense of community as you worked together side by side. I don’t think any other professional industry has such a strong sense of community, and it reminds me what makes the startup ecosystem so special.

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We (unexpectedly) Got 60K Users in 60 Hours. What we learned

Update: Humbled by all the feedback and comments: Check out the great discussion spawned on the Hacker News thread Summary/Table of Contents Growth Graph Our product recently hit a tipping point, signing up over 60K users in less than 60 hours, despite not being a naturally viral experience. While we were obviously trying to grow, this was much faster growth than we ever expected. I’m writing this post to break down where the traffic actually came from and what we learned from the experience so other startups can apply some of our lessons to their own products.  I broke the post down into sections so you can skim and skip to the parts you’ll find interesting and helpful.

  • Intro/Background: This is a quick background on our product and what we did leading up the rapid growth. Read this is you want a better frame of reference for the data.
  • Sec 1: Breakdown of the Data: In this section I’ll break down where all our traffic and users actually came from, so you can tell how different sources bring different levels of traffic quality. If you’re not interested in the data, you can skip this and go right to the lessons we learned.
  • Sec 2: Lessons You Can Apply to Your Product (what we learned): In this section I break down a few lessons we learned from the experience, so you can apply them to your own product.
  • Conclusion/Discussion points: The point of this article is to start a discussion and hopefully give other founders an ideas to market their own product. This section will give some starting points for the comments section.

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