The HackNY Fellows visited Etsy to see Fred Brooks speak about collaboration and the process of software development.


Before the talk, Fellows had a chance to catch up with each other and with Hilary, Evan, and Chris about their startups.

Clem and Anil, rappin bout clustering
catching up

catching up

Fred covered material from The Mythical Man-Month and his new book, The Design of Design.

He emphasized how projects must be organized to preserve the conceptual integrity of the design. His presentation was full of hilarious anecdotes and memorable phrases, such as “Many hands make light work: often, and more work: always.”

He also had great stories from his time at IBM and other Big Corporations about how hierarchies, like one finds in a large company, can lead to disconnect between the committee that designed the project and the people actually implementing it, who know what the real problems are.

Fred also discussed the role of telecollaboration, which can be a big part of life for some startups. He emphasized that it was important to have face to face meetings first, and telecollaborate later, a point also raised last week in the post Is Silicon Valley Dead? by Dave Troy:

Real creativity … has to happen face to face. This is where the magic occurs. If you don’t spend time with people you can’t create.

New-technology tools can help with execution, but only after the team dynamics are in place…

Love your place. Find the other like minded souls who love your place and start companies with those people. The creativity you unleash in your own backyard is the most important competitive differentiator you have.

Fred also took time to sign books and chat with the audience.

Afterwards Fellows got to chat with some other members of NYC’s startup ecosystem. Here’s Tal with Benjamin Gleitzman of Hunch.com, also cofounder of NextStep Tech!

tal (hackNY/aviary) + benjamin (hunch/NextStep Tech)

tal (hackNY/aviary) + benjamin (hunch/NextStep Tech)

Last week in the Wall Street Journal, Tal was quoted as saying “Compared to a traditional job, start-up life is different.” Etsy proved them right when, after the talk, they busted out the DJ + the disco ball:

DJ Etsy

DJ Etsy

Etsy disco ball

Etsy disco ball

Thanks to our host, Chad Dickerson!