Eating Startup Dogfood in Public

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Eating your own dogfood is a tech term believed to have started in the early days of Microsoft. By becoming your own customer, you really feel, not just intellectualize, the bugs and shortcomings of your product. Google famously banned MS Office as a way to get Google Docs up to speed. GitHub “uses GitHub to build GitHub”. And so on.

Cloudstitch is building the world’s first prosumer web development platform. We’ve got a clever development stack that we think is the key to unlocking this: your office suite (spreadsheets, folders, etc) instead of the traditional mess of databases and app servers programmers are used to. But a clever development stack is not enough: the experience has to be good, too.

Last November I grew worried that I was getting too out of touch with our users. I realized that when I built things using Cloudstitch (for friends, client demos, etc), I was increasingly using private tricks to bypass our cloud editing interface instead of using our platform the way our users do.

That had to change, so I did a series of experiments. I sat down and recorded myself re-writing a few people’s websites using Cloudstitch. I recorded them from scratch, with zero preparation, in a single take, without re-dos.

In just three videos, I learned a lot about what works and what needs work. Software demos tend to be scripted to create a feeling of effortlessness. But in real world development, situations arise that don’t perfectly match the tools you happen to be holding. Suddenly you need to find a workaround. There is something amazing about being recorded while you take those detours on your own product.

So here they are. Three short videos that I think are actually pretty useful tutorials given the setup of the experiment. But the real reason I wanted to share them was the hope it might inspire other startup founders to do this exercise. Even if you never release the results (I wasn’t sure if I would), try hitting the record button on yourself while you become your own user. You’ll be glad you did.

Walter Lasecki’s Publication Page

Drive by Web Programming — Walter Lasecki Edition

Elena Glassman’s Publication Page

Drive by Web Programming — Elena Glassman Edition

Frank Wang’s Publication Page

Drive by Web Programming — Frank Wang Edition