Subscribe to 💌 Tiny Improvements, my weekly newsletter for product builders. It's a single, tiny idea to help you build better products.

My startup got into Y Combinator

Well, our startup did - Craftwork is a tech-connected home painting company that is making it easier for homeowners to get their homes painted.

The cat's out of the bag

It's been a couple weeks come I've written an issue of Tiny Improvements, but for good reason: I have been dizzyingly busy. I'm happy to share that Craftwork was accepted into Y Combinator (upvotes appreciated!), a hugely competitive startup accelerator. We also raised $4M in funding to help us build and grow the future of home services, starting our home city of Charlotte, NC.

I've been spending the summer flying back and forth to San Francisco for various events for the program. It's been a thrill so far, and there's no way we would have made it into the program without a brilliant, talented team.

Launch YC: Craftwork
Craftwork's launch post on Y Combinator's website

Building a hiring culture we want

Back when I ran the Google Asssitant DevRel team, I had joined a handful of subreddits related to programming and computer science, for a couple reasons:

  1. I was hiring developer advocates, and was looking for college graduates who might be a good fit for the job

  2. I wanted to give back a bit, and share some of my experience as a seasoned practitioner with budding CS homies.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, remaining in these subreddits for the past few years has been a mixed bag. There are many motivated and passionate students who are learning in public, sharing their struggles, success, and anxiety with the world. On the other hand, there's also a deeply toxic and insecure culture around students thinking about the job market. It's wrought with anxiety and elitism.

It's not uncommon to see redditors mentioning that they practice for interviews on a website Leetcode for hours a day, or that they work 12+ hour days at their internships in the hopes of getting a full time job. They make one another feel bad for not being deferential enough to their prospective employers, and stomp on one-another's goals and dreams to feel better about their own paths.

Friends, this is not the kind of world we want to be building. Straight up. Why would anyone want to work in an environment where this is the reality?

Screenshot from r/computerscience, where I was called a narcissist for suggesting that it's okay for an intern to take a day off from their job
The one where I was called a narcissist for suggesting it's okay for an intern to take a day off. Is it petty to write an entire newsletter about this? Maybe. But I'm just a simple narcissist...

If you're working towards your first job in the industry, or someone who is hiring entry level developers, take this to heart: even in a competitive job industry, we should be building teams and cultures that we can be proud of.

I have countless examples of serendipity that have come from supporting people who I've bumped into throughout my career, both IRL and online. It is always better to amplify and show support for people doing great things with their lives, and to help build up the people around you.

But here's the thing: if you're reading this... you already know that. You're here for a reason.

Here's my challenge to you: sometime this week, go out of your way to support someone else's work. Whether by sharing it with your network, or straight up telling someone they're doing a good job -do something that tips the cultural scales toward positivity.

After you've done that, share it with me. I'd love to feature some community projects in upcoming newsletters.

Keep doing good out there. It makes a difference! 🤜🏼 🤛🏻

Three people you should follow, right now

I've been thinking a lot about the people who inspire me lately. Here's a few people who I think you should follow, too:

Phil Sturgeon, literal forest-builder and API expert

Phil Sturgeon is my long-time friend and fellow APIs You Won't Hate cofounder, author, and podcast host. He's spent the past few years traveling across the UK and Europe on bicycle and in his EV, building a charity that is helping to reforest the UK. He is an incredibly inspiring person, and one of the hardest working people I've ever met.

Nick DeJesus, open-sourcerer and future-builder

Nick DeJesus is an open source software developer who is working as CTO of Black Tech Pipeline. He's helping to build a better tech community, and is also one of the consistently funniest people I know.

Charlie Gerard, creative tech educator

Charlie Gerard is an innovative, brilliant software developer and published author. She has an endless list of creative tech projects that she builds and shares with the world. I was lucky to meet her while we worked together on the DevRel team at Stripe.

Where I'm learning

It's been a minute since I've shared some of the things I've been reading and listening to lately. Here's a few you may appreciate:

  • 🎃 The Pumpkin Plan is a book that was recommended to me by my pal and teammate CJ Avilla. The book's author shares a repeatable strategy for building a remarkable business in any field. It's chock full of great anecdotes and thought-provoking exercises.

  • 🧐 Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know is a book about the importance of being able to change your mind, and knowing how to change other people's minds when the time is right. It's a great read, and I've been thinking about it a lot lately.

  • (CW: cancer) On the Vlogbrothers YouTube Channel, vlog brother and consummate youtuber Hank Green has been sharing his experience since being diagnosed with lymphoma. His treatment seems to be going extremely well so far, thankfully, and his videos have been a emotionally candid and scientifically factual look at his experience with cancer. I lost my mother to cancer when I was in college, and I distinctly remember feeling like there was no way to understand what her experience was like. Hank's videos have been a great way to learn more about the experience of cancer patients, and I'm grateful that he's sharing his experience with the world. I wish him well.

My startup got into Y Combinator

Well, our startup did - Craftwork is a tech-connected home painting company that is making it easier for homeowners to get their homes painted.



💌 Tiny Improvements: my weekly newsletter sharing one small yet impactful idea for product builders, startup founders, and indiehackers.

It's your cheat code for building products your customers will love. Learn from the CTO of a Y Combinator-backed startup, with past experience at Google, Stripe, and Microsoft.

    Join the other product builders, and start shipping today!