Ethar AlaliLean Enterprises, Mathmo, Algo-Geek & Coder,

Founder & Chief Exec of Axelisys. Lean Expert, Polymath, Systems Thinker & Convention shaker-upper.

Founded and run effective dozens of multimillion dollar programmes for high profile global organisations, charities/non-profits

Loves Efficacy | Lives Maths | Laments Waste

Recent Answers

Yes, there's a lot we can discuss.

We internally use BDD tests (Gherkin for user stories), coupled with Selenium via CoyPu wrapped around any mock-up output (in our case, Indigo Studio).

You can take a look at an example from a while ago on our YouTube Channel (Axelisys Wonder), specifically at:

What we typically do is:

1. Sit together with the business, BA and a Dev to develop user stories representing customer journeys using "As a... I want... So that..." often in conjunction with mock-up web pages which are then changed into static HTML pages.

2. Run through the primary scenario and develop the "Given... When... Then" statements.

3. Commit that to your Version Control system ("What?")

4. At this point, the devs or a DiT (Developer in Test - if your organisation uses that) can pull it out and wrap the mock-up in CoyPu/Selenium with references to the appropriate elements. The behaviour of the mock-up should represent the user journey. Hence the BDD test should use the same data as the mock-up did. However...

The maximum number of tests should be 2 to the power of the number of "Given" "Ands". So if you have

"GIVEN I am 17 AND I have a driving license"

This counts as 2 test variates and as such, creates upto 4 test cases.

5. As the devs work through the process, they fill out the mock-ups and push data back through the layers (perhaps walking the skeleton for the primary scenario) and filling in any data persistence layers etc. as they go. The very same tests are used to regress existing functionality too.

So the test strategy is basically to make sure you have covered as much of the valuable journey as possible (all primary scenarios/happy paths and the most valuable secondary scenarios, as long as TDD level tests can adequately cover the rest).

How do you know what is adequate? I'll direct you to a couple of articles.
Feel free to arrange a call if you need more information.

Best of luck!

This is in essence, the cheapest way to start a business. You have rightly not stated what the product or service offering is. So we can only offer general advice.

I work making businesses more effective, both in terms of IT and lean innovation practises. There is nothing to stop someone setting up a business and making the same thing or offering the same service as someone else, but faster and cheaper. It certainly isn't illegal as long as you don't violate a patent or other intellectual property in some way. The reality is you have to understand what IP exists (copyright, design-right, patent, registered trademarks...) and not every one of those applies to all services. Indeed, if a product or service is "obvious" to an expert in the industry, or it's public domain, patenting it can be considered indefensible anyway.

Most businesses who are second entrants off the back of a primary entrant who's idea is proving itself, have a much cheaper entry to the market and they can build on the lessons their first mover competitors have learned (or failed to learn). Doing what you describe can still be innovative. The classical example of the Toyota production system transformed the production of cars not just in Japan, but across the world. They couldn't patent the car, since that existed already and the production system they created could not defensibly be patented anyway. In any event, make sure your IP is protected once you do manage to do it.

If you'd like to discuss this further, feel free to book yourself a call. I'd be happy to help walk you through it.

There are sites out there to find cofounders, but as others have already rightly said, you are extremely unlikely to find anyone good that's willing to do it for equity only. Not even with a good story I'd argue and if they were capable of doing it, they would do it themselves and control all the equity.

Anyone accepting of your offer will do so because they don't have a better option. After all, on day zero of your startup, with the best will in the world, you have a zero valued company.

in the USA, you are competing with companies willing to pay good talent $130K a year or more. That is what it has to be worth day 0. The day they join your startup. They have bills to pay after all, so certainly can't do it for nothing.

It gets more compelling if you have already made sales and you're on a growth curve. If you have proven your company has raked in about $130K in non-debt revenue in the previous year. This proves market viability and your worth as a salesperson/marketer, as that is the skill CTO and tech founders often lack and want in cofounders. You yourself are going after people who are proven, yet your skill and idea is yet to be proven to them. They're banking on you to bring in the beans whilst they deliver and to be blunt, you're already in the back foot position of proving you don't value them enough to pay anything. Remember, your company at this stage is worth zero actual dollars. Hence, their equity is zero actual dollars.

90% of startups fail within 2 years, so the Value at Risk for them, as an investor of technical skill (not money) is 2 * $130K * 0.9 = 234,000 for that period of time, which is ridiculously high risk for someone who isn't a billionaire already. Good people sadly, won't touch you with a barge pole. I've been there before and I certainly won't do it again.

Either way, work up to it and I wish you luck in your venture.


That's certainly up to the ToS and expert. They may choose to take the PDF/SlideShow beforehand to prep for the call. If you are providing the clarity, that may be fine. Indeed, I often ask for a certain amount of conceptual clarity so I don't spend too much of the client's time and money during the call.

However, to ask experts to do any work on it, or for oneself to ask an expert for clarity before the call is, I'd argue taking advantage of the expert's time. It's entirely possible for unscrupulous clients to get the clarification they need before a call and then never take the call, thereby getting the service for free. It risks leaving the experts out of pocket, potentially twice, if they've given up other work to take that call. It's why Clarity as a platform, exists.

Hence, as both a matter of safety and respect, most customers should not ask to get any clarification without paying for it. Most experienced experts who have been in this game for a while will be aware of such risks and sensibly won't offer clarity without payment for it.

I hope that helps and best of luck for your session!

It's possible, but not the way you think.

The first is the top level domain. There are a couple of options. One is you'll need to DNS redirect from their web hosts to your address. Note this is not an HTTP redirect! If your servers take over the DBS hosting process, then you take control of that, which is something some CDNs do (such as CloudFlare). However, given you're asking the question, I'd suggest it might be too advanced for you if you've not got a good grounding in web networks.

The URL rewriting element will give you the rest of the path though. Indeed, if you're using MVC you get this out of the box through its routes (you just direct their path to your path). But the URL rewriting module is available for IIS in any case.

If you need any more help or info, happy to schedule a call in. Just ping me a message.


I've built and integrated with countless payment processors in my time, including the usual Stripe, PayPal and Braintree managed processors as well as direct banking integrations (HSBC, RBS etc) and I've also worked at indirect competitors of AirBnB and the key to getting the process to work like AirBnB isn't to use the default offerings of Stripe, PayPal and Braintree :)

You have to go straight to the back end payment processors of your bank or to an API based intermediary. Some are offshoots of default services like PayPal, eWay and WorldPay, others are bespoke banking solutions which charge you on-demand/PAYG or a fixed fee and then you maybe optimise your costs on your side depending on the charging model. However, this isn't a small scale integration. Some of these take 3 weeks of bespoke development, when factoring in the merchant ID and banking QA process.

Hit me up for a call if you need to discuss this in more detail. Happy to help.

I'll echo Jason's comments on using GitHub and if you can build a reputation, Stack Overflow (but don't get downvoted). I'll also add my own too, since mentoring an intern in my own company is something I'm currently doing. I'm not currently looking to mentor anyone else atm, since it's a travesty for all of them to spread yourself too thin. Though am happy to discuss direction.

The short answer is yes, you can, but whether they're allowed to take you on in that capacity is another matter, since some countries rightly have laws to protect workers from exploitation. Plus, it crucially depends on the value you'll get from it and that they can provide. My experience has been quite positive taking on someone who is already degree educated, though in electronic systems engineering. My intern is very keen, has grasped the concepts of agility and DevOps well and my focus for them has been to get them doing two things.

The first, identifying a particular problem to solve and creating an open source project on GitHub to solve it. The second, blogging about it. The first encourages and attempts to exhibit technical skill. The second to communicate it. You can be the best programmer in the world but if nobody knows, you're as good as a nobody.

From the other side, you have to be willing to even present your own learning and development plan. It has to be as frictionless as possible. Especially in startup world. Many are low on funds, yes. However, they trade on time and skill. You have to respect that as every minute spent with you is a minute they're not trying to add revenue to their business, which risks them not having a business to fall back on. That does you no favours as then the reference you get isn't as powerful as it could be (though still useful). It's not uncommon for gem to spend 4 hours a week or more with you. If their revenue stream is normally 100K a year, then given a 40 hour week, that's 10K they've spent with you if they're not yet at the stage of passive income. However, it can still be a rewarding experience for both of you.

In any event, if you don't ask, you rarely get. So I wish you the best of luck in finding the right company.

Many people in consumerist countries buy on emotion. It isn't the same at the lower end of the market, so brands lose out massively in that space, but they aren't really too worried about it given the disposable income available elsewhere.

Branding involves understanding how your 'badge' makes your customers feel. There has to be a congruence between what they see and thus imagine. Oddly, this can also include what they can almost smell and taste! Even though those are not at any point defined in the brand strategy per se.

The first thing is to identify your market segment. In the example you gave, ask yourself what is it you do? How old are you? Do you have children? What sort of job do you do? Are you happy with it? How much do you make? What sort of house do you live in? What other things do you like? etc. etc. etc. these all form what is known as a 'customer persona'. You may even help yourself along by cutting out items from magazines which help visualise answer to those questions or even create and cut out a large cut-out of that archetype.

I do this a lot in different capacities, especially in IT and tech, since that is the market I revolve in most. I can definitely help with the strategy, but I'm going to say something quite odd. If you are thinking to, DO NOT contact me about manifesting it ;) As you can probably tell, there are two parts to this. The first is the strategy which I can do with my eyes closed. The second is the branding exercise, which involves the folk focussed on the emotional aspect of the process, even if they lack the strategic oversight or plan.

If I were you, I'd find someone who has both. The strategic 'cognition' and the emotional/EQ skill. That is the sort of person you need or you can find people that work well together and use them both.

Very best of luck!

I think as others have said, that idea itself may not be quite right and you are looking to us to brainstorm. However, I do know someone who does exactly this, for free. He makes his money by facilitating the ability of others to think outside their proverbial boxes, using what at the core, is basically workshop facilitation. That's an easier sell than 'professional ear' as the market is kind of there already. You don't have to know much about the business to facilitate a workshop or coach per se, as you need to concentrate on the facilitation. Many people like me can't think and facilitate at the same time. :-D Especially if you're too close to the problem. So effectively you get called in ad hoc to facilitate workshops to allow all the firepower in the room to concentrate on the problem at hand. It doesn't mean you can't structure a session where you give advice at certain points or when asked. However, that risks exposure. You can always help by researching after the fact, where the team has found key questions they want answering. Write them on a post it and take them with you.

If you become a millionaire off these ideas. I'll take 10% ;)

There are a few options. If you've done the basics through Codecademy, then you're ready to move on to the specifics of a platform (such as PostgreSQL as you've mentioned). Though this can equally be a minefield.

The reporting engines/formats differ from platform to platform. As does SQL believe it or not, in the sense each of the mainstream vendors adds their own specific bits to the standard. They are all compliant for the basics though. All of them will support the latest version of SQL (ANSI standard 2011), but PL/SQL is different to Transact-SQL in the way it uses cursors.

In addition, each has an even bigger variation when it comes to multidimensional queries such as MDX, since there is no standard for MDX and some vendors use their own expressions and languages to carry out such queries.

I can certainly help with tutoring, having been working in SQL since 1997 (and still do), although I think it's worth focussing on getting a little better at the specifics of the SQL vendor extensions you want to use, including their Cube, Pivot and Grouping functions as well as more complex joins, as they'll be the baseline skills for future reporting exercises, including analytical processing.

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