07/25/11 | Uncategorized

Startup Lessons Learned by Dana Kanze of Moonit

By Dana Kanze (Co-Founder & CEO, Moonit)
I’ve heard the (annoying) phrase time and time again, “If you knew just how hard it is to start a company, you’d never do it.” True, but what’s the fun in that?

A few years ago, my co-founder and I waded out of our respective mind-sucking finance jobs and into the fun and exciting world of online media when we founded our company Moonit. This is just the beginning for Moonit but light years ahead of where we were last summer, when we were taking a whack-a-mole approach to our ever-growing list of pesky “cannot be replicated” bugs.

Without a technical co-founder, we had no way to vet how long anything should take or whether it had gotten done right. We were at the mercy of inexperienced junior developers, opportunistic consultants and indifferent digital agencies we had surrounded ourselves with. As a result, our site was unstable and we were afraid to drive any traffic to it! So we had essentially built a site that worked for all of 10 people at the same time — we weren’t exactly lighting it up.

Startup Lessons Learned: Team Building

We anticipated that growing our numbers and fine-tuning a business model would be a challenge, but by far the biggest hurdle we faced was building a team.

Sure we knew there would be pitfalls along the way, but how hard could it be?

After enduring years of 14+ hour days, this would be a piece of cake. Plus, the economy was in the crapper, so tons of attractive local candidates should be lining up to work for us.

Wrong. Turns out developers don’t grow on trees. In fact, finding a rock-star back-end developer in NYC is harder than getting face-time with a unicorn. So we had to drop everything else we were doing to focus on heavy-duty recruiting, leaving no rock unturned.

Many founder stories seem to involve a pinch of luck, and ours is no different. Within a few months of trolling Craigslist, we were able to find a tech leader with experience scaling funded start-ups… someone who actually cared about the user experience as much as we did! Once he was on board, we built out a tech team around him. He was able to create the foundation for us to manage, motivate and achieve our development goals. Now we have three very capable developers on hand who have the ability to work on “sprints” together and complete individual “points” on their own as needed.

What’s Missing?

We need more girls! I’d love to balance out the guy-girl ratio a bit since I’m outnumbered 4 to 1 right now. We’ve got openings for a product manager, UX and front-end designer and community manager, so don’t be shy to apply here.

Feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn for partnerships, job opportunities, co-promotions and anything else in between. In the meantime, check out Moonit to find your start-up soulmate (or any other kind of soulmate you’re looking for in life).

About the guest blogger: Dana Kanze is Co-Founder and CEO of Moonit. Prior to launching online media start-up Moonit, Dana served as a Director of Winterberry Group. During her three years at the firm, she led research and buyside strategic advisory efforts for a wide variety of the firm’s engagements. Dana graduated magna cum laude with a B.S. in economics and concentration in management from the Wharton School and concurrent minor in Italian Studies from the University of Pennsylvania.



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