How To Make It as a
First-Time Entrepreneur

How to Make it as a First-Time Entrepreneur

This is the third part of a series on becoming your own technical co-founder. In 2008, we couldn’t find a technical co-founder for Yipit. I’m writing about how I became our technical co-founder. Hopefully, I’ll encourage other entrepreneurs with a dream but no technical co-founder options to take their destiny into their own hands.

Disclaimer: If you know a great technical co-founder that wants to work with you, join them. This series is intended for everyone else.

You have the next big idea but don’t have a strong technical background and you don’t have a great technical co-founder lined up. Sadly, that represents over 95% of potential entrepreneurs out there and it’s a very frustrating experience.

Not all is lost. You don’t need to build an amazing scalable company right away. You just need to get a prototype off the ground that gets traction. Once you get traction, you can attract a great technical team. So, how do you build that prototype?

Three Options For Building Your Prototype

You have three options all of which are hard, frustrating and risky:

  • Keep trying to find a technical co-founder. We tried this at Yipit and couldn’t find anyone.
    • Pros: If you have a great technical co-founder, your startup now has a real future.
    • Cons: You won’t do any work on your project till you find someone. Worse, you’re probably not going to find someone and, if you do, they’re going to be less than ideal.
    • Advice: I wrote a gude to finding a technical co-founder.
  • Hire a programmer. We also tried this at Yipit and it didn’t work.
    • Pros: You’ll have someone working on your project right away.
    • Cons: It will cost you money. You’re not going to manage them correctly. If that initial prototype doesn’t get traction right away (and it probably won’t), it’s going to be a real struggle to quickly iterate and you’ll end up spending even more money.
    • Advice: See this great article on how to hire a programmer.
  • Teach yourself to build it. After failing to the above two, we decided we would teach ourselves. Six months later, we could build almost any prototype we wanted. We got traction with Yipit and now have an awesome technical team working on it.
    • Pros. You’ll have full control over your destiny. You can iterate your project quickly and you’ll have way better interactions with your future technical team. You’ll have this skill for your future ideas.
    • Cons. Your project is going to have to wait till you teach yourself. It will take a serious time investment from you.
    • Advice. I’m writing a series on becoming your own technical co-founder based on my experience. See my first post on why it’s easier than you probably think.

Which Option Should You Choose?

Okay, so which option should choose? There’s a lot of ways to think about it, but I think it really comes down to where you think your startup is going to create real value.

Tech startups create real value in one of three ways: (note: for example companies, I’m referring to their initial prototypes):

  • Technology Innovation. Your service has to be secure, it has to scale immediately, you need PhD’s to help you develop algorithms and you’re probably applying for a few patents.
    • Examples: Initial prototypes of Google, Twilio, SimpleGeo, Aviary, Hunch
    • Advice: Keep trying to find a technical co-founder. In fact, unless you have serious domain expertise, you should reconsider why you are trying to build a start-up that has a very serious technology component.
  • User Interface / User Experience. This represents most startups we see today. The tech aspect is mainly writing and reading from a database and you might build on top of an API. You won’t need to scale right away and it doesn’t need to be super secure.
    • Examples: Initial prototypes of Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter, Yelp, Yipit
    • Advice: Teach Yourself. Your main challenge won’t be the technology but will be getting the interface right. Getting the interface and experience right will require you to iterate the product several times and you’ll want to be in full control over how quickly you can do that.
  • Sales / Marketing. The tech stuff is *really* easy and replicable by many. The key to your startup’s success is your sales, editorial or marketing operations most of which will be mainly happening offline. In fact, you’re initial product isn’t a real tech company, it’s a tech-enabled company.
    • Examples: Initial prototypes of Gilt, Groupon, Thrillist, Gawker
    • Advice: Hire a Programmer. The prototype’s functionality isn’t going to determine your success. It’s your ability to create great content, build a great sales team or execute on marketing channels. Just get something out there and recruit a great technical team later.

As a personal experience, if we had been building a Groupon competitor, we would have hired a programmer. But, since Yipit, an aggregator of all these services, involves more user interface / user experience challenges, it made more sense for us to teach ourselves so that we could iterate on the concept till we got it right.

So, for all the 95% of us who don’t have a great technical co-founder lined up, I hope to encourage you that you can get started on your dream today. Assuming you are not trying to innovate on the technology, either hire a programmer or start teaching yourself.

This is part of a series on becoming your own technical co-founder. In the next post in this series, I will delve into becoming your own temporary technical co-founder based on my own experience staring with a big picture overview of all the components of a web service.

  1. Guide to Finding a Technical Co-Founder
  2. Why You Can Become Your Own Technical Co-Founder
  3. Should You Find a Co-Founder, Hire a Programmer or DIY?
  4. Big Picture Overview of All the Components of a Web Service
  5. More to Come…
  • http://twitter.com/ZackShapiro Zack Shapiro

    This is exactly what I needed right now. I'm right at the bridge of teaching myself or finding someone. Thanks for the insight.

  • http://twitter.com/ZackShapiro Zack Shapiro

    This is exactly what I needed right now. I'm right at the bridge of teaching myself or finding someone. Thanks for the insight.

  • http://viniciusvacanti.com Vinicius Vacanti

    Awesome! It all depends on what your project is. And, remember, you're just building a prototype not a full company.

  • Pingback: Guide to Finding a Technical Co-Founder | Vinicius Vacanti

  • http://twitter.com/ZackShapiro Zack Shapiro

    This is exactly what I needed right now. I’m right at the bridge of teaching myself or finding someone. Thanks for the insight.

    • http://viniciusvacanti.com Vinicius Vacanti

      Awesome! It all depends on what your project is. And, remember, you’re just building a prototype not a full company.

  • http://twitter.com/ZackShapiro Zack Shapiro

    This is exactly what I needed right now. I’m right at the bridge of teaching myself or finding someone. Thanks for the insight.

    • http://viniciusvacanti.com Vinicius Vacanti

      Awesome! It all depends on what your project is. And, remember, you’re just building a prototype not a full company.

  • Adrian

    This is a very welcomed development. Hate to reinvent the wheel, but I'd rather do so than waste another second trying to convince anybody of anything. The biggest obstacle for me was trying to figure out where to start in a world where every person I spoke to suggested something different. I've always wondered why I couldn't find somebody who just shared the details of how they actually built something … anything. And now, thanks to the magic of the internet (and Vinicius's very appreciated decision to share his experience), ta-da! I can see this morphing into a specialty startup world. Many thanks and looking forward to the next post.

  • Adrian

    This is a very welcomed development. Hate to reinvent the wheel, but I’d rather do so than waste another second trying to convince anybody of anything. The biggest obstacle for me was trying to figure out where to start in a world where every person I spoke to suggested something different. I’ve always wondered why I couldn’t find somebody who just shared the details of how they actually built something … anything. And now, thanks to the magic of the internet (and Vinicius’s very appreciated decision to share his experience), ta-da! I can see this morphing into a specialty startup world. Many thanks and looking forward to the next post.

    • http://viniciusvacanti.com Vinicius Vacanti

      Thanks Adrian! I know what you mean by getting different suggestions for the same thing. It’s not that they are wrong (though sometimes they are), it’s just that they don’t explain their context.

      • Adrian

        I can appreciate that there can be many ways to accomplish a goal. It just seems like such an incomprehensible mess sometimes … sort of like jumping into World of Warcraft, but without the structured, progressive entry point. And without the benefit of knowing the benefits of your choices in advance.

        Maybe I’ll spend a few hundred bucks and several months of my life learning these things and they’ll help me do what I need to do … but maybe they won’t and it will just be a lengthy but impractical intellectual exercise. Who knows? Not me!

        Anyway, thank you for your timely response, and it goes without saying that I don’t think I’m the only one who appreciates the niche you’re carving out for yourself; looking forward to your next post.

  • Adrian

    This is a very welcomed development. Hate to reinvent the wheel, but I’d rather do so than waste another second trying to convince anybody of anything. The biggest obstacle for me was trying to figure out where to start in a world where every person I spoke to suggested something different. I’ve always wondered why I couldn’t find somebody who just shared the details of how they actually built something … anything. And now, thanks to the magic of the internet (and Vinicius’s very appreciated decision to share his experience), ta-da! I can see this morphing into a specialty startup world. Many thanks and looking forward to the next post.

    • http://viniciusvacanti.com Vinicius Vacanti

      Thanks Adrian! I know what you mean by getting different suggestions for the same thing. It’s not that they are wrong (though sometimes they are), it’s just that they don’t explain their context.

      • Adrian

        I can appreciate that there can be many ways to accomplish a goal. It just seems like such an incomprehensible mess sometimes … sort of like jumping into World of Warcraft, but without the structured, progressive entry point. And without the benefit of knowing the benefits of your choices in advance.

        Maybe I’ll spend a few hundred bucks and several months of my life learning these things and they’ll help me do what I need to do … but maybe they won’t and it will just be a lengthy but impractical intellectual exercise. Who knows? Not me!

        Anyway, thank you for your timely response, and it goes without saying that I don’t think I’m the only one who appreciates the niche you’re carving out for yourself; looking forward to your next post.

  • http://viniciusvacanti.com Vinicius Vacanti

    Thanks Adrian! I know what you mean by getting different suggestions for the same thing. It's not that they are wrong (though sometimes they are), it's just that they don't explain their context.

  • Adrian

    I can appreciate that there can be many ways to accomplish a goal. It just seems like such an incomprehensible mess sometimes … sort of like jumping into World of Warcraft, but without the structured, progressive entry point. And without the benefit of knowing the benefits of your choices in advance.

    Maybe I'll spend a few hundred bucks and several months of my life learning these things and they'll help me do what I need to do … but maybe they won't and it will just be a lengthy but impractical intellectual exercise. Who knows? Not me!

    Anyway, thank you for your timely response, and it goes without saying that I don't think I'm the only one who appreciates the niche you're carving out for yourself; looking forward to your next post.

  • FrankDenbow

    Good article Vini, especially love the chart. Hope many others get to see this.

  • http://viniciusvacanti.com Vinicius Vacanti

    Thanks Frank! Hopefully clears up different advice people get on what they need to do from a technical perspective.

  • Anonymous

    Good article Vini, especially love the chart. Hope many others get to see this.

    • http://viniciusvacanti.com Vinicius Vacanti

      Thanks Frank! Hopefully clears up different advice people get on what they need to do from a technical perspective.

  • http://www.frankdenbow.com Frank Denbow

    Good article Vini, especially love the chart. Hope many others get to see this.

    • http://viniciusvacanti.com Vinicius Vacanti

      Thanks Frank! Hopefully clears up different advice people get on what they need to do from a technical perspective.

  • Claudius

    This is very helpful. I have a degree in finance. I actually have started to take some programming classes to keep up to speed with my startt-up.We recently applied for Techstars NYC where I noticed you are listed as an adviser. We would love the opportunity to ask you some questions. Our website will be launching in the next week or so. If you have heard of Waiting for Superman we are trying to solve the problem described in the movie. http://www.waitingforsuperman.com/synopsis. Please email me if you would like to know more.I use claudiuswaveinvite@gmail.com as the email address I use when I post on message boards. Contact me here if you want.Best,Claudius Christian

  • Claudius

    This is very helpful. I have a degree in finance. I actually have started to take some programming classes to keep up to speed with my startt-up.

    We recently applied for Techstars NYC where I noticed you are listed as an adviser. We would love the opportunity to ask you some questions. Our website will be launching in the next week or so. If you have heard of Waiting for Superman we are trying to solve the problem described in the movie. http://www.waitingforsuperman.com/synopsis. Please email me if you would like to know more.

    I use claudiuswaveinvite@gmail.com as the email address I use when I post on message boards. Contact me here if you want.

    Best,
    Claudius Christian

  • Claudius

    This is very helpful. I have a degree in finance. I actually have started to take some programming classes to keep up to speed with my startt-up.

    We recently applied for Techstars NYC where I noticed you are listed as an adviser. We would love the opportunity to ask you some questions. Our website will be launching in the next week or so. If you have heard of Waiting for Superman we are trying to solve the problem described in the movie. http://www.waitingforsuperman.com/synopsis. Please email me if you would like to know more.

    I use claudiuswaveinvite@gmail.com as the email address I use when I post on message boards. Contact me here if you want.

    Best,
    Claudius Christian

  • Eseidelman

    Great article. I'm in the process of finding a co-founder and it's like selling air. Without a prototype or something to show, it's damn near impossible. My question is… if you have ZERO, I mean ZERO developing knowledge, where do you start?The only knowledge I have is I know PHP and Ruby are programming languages. Never once have I ever done a line of code. So, just taking that first step is overwhelming because of all the options out there and everyone has a different opinion.

  • Eseidelman

    Great article. I’m in the process of finding a co-founder and it’s like selling air. Without a prototype or something to show, it’s damn near impossible.

    My question is… if you have ZERO, I mean ZERO developing knowledge, where do you start?

    The only knowledge I have is I know PHP and Ruby are programming languages. Never once have I ever done a line of code.

    So, just taking that first step is overwhelming because of all the options out there and everyone has a different opinion.

    • http://viniciusvacanti.com Vinicius Vacanti

      I feel your pain. I’m writing a series on all the steps I took. If you want a good place to start, I would recommend picking up a Ruby on Rails book.

  • Eseidelman

    Great article. I’m in the process of finding a co-founder and it’s like selling air. Without a prototype or something to show, it’s damn near impossible.

    My question is… if you have ZERO, I mean ZERO developing knowledge, where do you start?

    The only knowledge I have is I know PHP and Ruby are programming languages. Never once have I ever done a line of code.

    So, just taking that first step is overwhelming because of all the options out there and everyone has a different opinion.

    • http://viniciusvacanti.com Vinicius Vacanti

      I feel your pain. I’m writing a series on all the steps I took. If you want a good place to start, I would recommend picking up a Ruby on Rails book.

    • gwhosubex

      Best track Ruby on Rails for people completely new to programming:

      Codeacademy.com (ruby, html, css, jquery)->
      CodeJinn.com ->
      BaseRails.com ->
      Rails Antipatterns book to get a solid explanation of how Rails works ->
      http://smile.amazon.com/Rails-AntiPatterns-Refactoring-Addison-Wesley-Professional/dp/0321604814/ref=smi_www_rcolv2_go_smi?_encoding=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0
      Michael Hartl’s book. + videos
      http://smile.amazon.com/Rails-Tutorial-LiveLesson-Video-Bundle/dp/032186297X/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1408004317&sr=1-3&keywords=michael+hartl+tutorial

      I’ve gone through many resources, and found this order to be the fastest, most cost-effective, least-stressful, and result-oriented path to getting decent with Ruby on Rails.

      Use StackOverflow.com to ask questions, learn Git and github/bitbucket. Use w3schools.com for html, css, javascript references.

      Ruby on Rails is definitely a fast, practical choice for a technology.

      I’m not sure there are very many good books out there for fresh beginners. I’d also say most people new to programming learn better by doing with a guide, rather than reading a book.

      CodeAcademy is a great way to get exposed to ruby, and programming in general. One of the best starting tutorials is CodeJinn.com. and one of the fastest ways to pick up rails. I’d even say with CodeJinn.com you can pick up Rails before ruby, see the entire process, and deploy a simple app, and expand from there. Any real solid, thorough programming will require knowing the basics of ruby well, though.

      Afterwards, do BaseRails.com. It’s is another very affordable tutorial with excellent coverage and explanations. Solid value.

      Most book about Rails won’t do a good job of explaining how Rails works, and the practical things when programming. Despite the seemingly off-topic title of Anti-Patterns, it’s not just about refactoring and making your code neater. The primary value of this book, IMO, is for intermediate level programmers actually learning Rails This book surprisingly does an incredible job of anticipating what you’re thinking, addressing all the related possibilities, and showing you many concrete patterns of code. Seeing various equivalent code and coding patterns allows you to understand some of the magic behind Rails.

      i’d leave Michael Hartl’s tutorial for last. It’s quite in-depth, covers testing, and is quite thorough, almost enough training to get a Rails job. You don’t want to start with this book first, despite the fact that you’ll hear it recommended the most. This book is gear 4, not gear 1. If you have a programming background, then go for it. But you’ll only waste time and limited motivation trying to learn what you could learn much more quickly, easily, and cheaply with the other resources I mentioned in my recommended track.

      It should take 2-3 months typically. Don’t waste more time like I did, starting from gear 4, rather than 1,2,3,4.

      Good luck! It’s completely doable! Don’t go wandering. Get knowledge about the best path from others around you as well. This one is pretty optimal. But don’t go randomly committing time on resources before vetting whether they;re optimal for your state of knowledge, time, etc.

  • JeffSepp

    Hopefully more meetups like Ruby Nuby keep starting up. Teaching yourself to program if you have a business background can be overwhelming and really frustrating. Youtube also has a ton of video tutorials for teaching and implementing specific functions. MIT Open Courseworks has extensive listings with videos if you want to do the classrom lecture route. This might not be the most time effective, but helps with getting a basis for future projects.If all else fails, just get a few books and try not to pull your hair out.

  • http://www.lifestylentrepreneurs.com Jeff Sepp

    Hopefully more meetups like Ruby Nuby keep starting up. Teaching yourself to program if you have a business background can be overwhelming and really frustrating. Youtube also has a ton of video tutorials for teaching and implementing specific functions. MIT Open Courseworks has extensive listings with videos if you want to do the classrom lecture route. This might not be the most time effective, but helps with getting a basis for future projects.

    If all else fails, just get a few books and try not to pull your hair out.

    • http://viniciusvacanti.com Vinicius Vacanti

      Great advice Jeff. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.lifestylentrepreneurs.com Jeff Sepp

    Hopefully more meetups like Ruby Nuby keep starting up. Teaching yourself to program if you have a business background can be overwhelming and really frustrating. Youtube also has a ton of video tutorials for teaching and implementing specific functions. MIT Open Courseworks has extensive listings with videos if you want to do the classrom lecture route. This might not be the most time effective, but helps with getting a basis for future projects.

    If all else fails, just get a few books and try not to pull your hair out.

    • http://viniciusvacanti.com Vinicius Vacanti

      Great advice Jeff. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://viniciusvacanti.com Vinicius Vacanti

    I feel your pain. I'm writing a series on all the steps I took. If you want a good place to start, I would recommend picking up a Ruby on Rails book.

  • http://viniciusvacanti.com Vinicius Vacanti

    Great advice Jeff. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://joybricks.com/blog/ vruz

    hey there. this is a timely post, thank you.there's a broken link: item #1 of the list at the bottom doesn't work

  • http://viniciusvacanti.com Vinicius Vacanti

    Glad you liked it and link has been fixed.

  • http://joybricks.com/blog/ vruz

    hey there. this is a timely post, thank you.

    there’s a broken link: item #1 of the list at the bottom doesn’t work

    • http://viniciusvacanti.com Vinicius Vacanti

      Glad you liked it and link has been fixed.

  • http://joybricks.com/blog/ vruz

    hey there. this is a timely post, thank you.

    there’s a broken link: item #1 of the list at the bottom doesn’t work

    • http://viniciusvacanti.com Vinicius Vacanti

      Glad you liked it and link has been fixed.

  • sam c

    Great post – finally someone knocking this topic on the head! When does the next in the series come out?!

  • sam c

    Great post – finally someone knocking this topic on the head! When does the next in the series come out?!

  • Jon Anderson

    This is the best series for entrepreneurs I have read in a long time. Looking forward to more.

  • Jon Anderson

    This is the best series for entrepreneurs I have read in a long time. Looking forward to more.

  • Itai Lahan

    So you spent 6 months teaching yourselves a skill that you’ll never use again (now that you have hired developers), losing 6 months of income and 6 months delay in getting your product to market which is nothing less than an eternity in the startup world. Can you honestly recommend this approach?

    My personal advice – never EVER do the coding yourselves… when we started our first venture (newsodrome.com), we’ve also started a part-time software outsourcing business (ndivi.com) to cover our expenses. We were basically working 50% of the time on our own startup and 50% of our time helping other startups. During this time we’ve worked with dozens of startups and learned a lot about what works and what not.

    In web based startups, technology is rarely a problem. It’s time consuming, but not risky. The real risk that should earn the majority of your time is your business proposition. Instead of putting your efforts into the technology, go find a highly capable and experienced group to do the dev aspects quickly, efficiently and accurately. This will give you the peace of mind to spend 100% of your time listening to your clients, shaping your product and building your business. Get some small funding to help you reach a Beta (alternatively, keep your day job for a couple of months and use it to cover the dev expenses), and vastly increase your chance of success.

    Just my 2 cents.

    • http://viniciusvacanti.com Vinicius Vacanti

      Itai, that’s a valid perspective but not sure I agree:
      – You assume that after 6 months I would get traction and be able to hire developers. What if I can’t get traction? Then I still have the skills to keep trying with other projects without having to hire other developers
      – You will be a much better product manager with a solid understanding of the engineering of the project
      – You will be in a much better position to hire developers since you’ll be able to know which ones know what they are talking about

  • Itai Lahan

    So you spent 6 months teaching yourselves a skill that you’ll never use again (now that you have hired developers), losing 6 months of income and 6 months delay in getting your product to market which is nothing less than an eternity in the startup world. Can you honestly recommend this approach?

    My personal advice – never EVER do the coding yourselves… when we started our first venture (newsodrome.com), we’ve also started a part-time software outsourcing business (ndivi.com) to cover our expenses. We were basically working 50% of the time on our own startup and 50% of our time helping other startups. During this time we’ve worked with dozens of startups and learned a lot about what works and what not.

    In web based startups, technology is rarely a problem. It’s time consuming, but not risky. The real risk that should earn the majority of your time is your business proposition. Instead of putting your efforts into the technology, go find a highly capable and experienced group to do the dev aspects quickly, efficiently and accurately. This will give you the peace of mind to spend 100% of your time listening to your clients, shaping your product and building your business. Get some small funding to help you reach a Beta (alternatively, keep your day job for a couple of months and use it to cover the dev expenses), and vastly increase your chance of success.

    Just my 2 cents.

    • http://viniciusvacanti.com Vinicius Vacanti

      Itai, that’s a valid perspective but not sure I agree:
      – You assume that after 6 months I would get traction and be able to hire developers. What if I can’t get traction? Then I still have the skills to keep trying with other projects without having to hire other developers
      – You will be a much better product manager with a solid understanding of the engineering of the project
      – You will be in a much better position to hire developers since you’ll be able to know which ones know what they are talking about

    • raylu

      “go find a highly capable and experienced group to do the dev aspects quickly, efficiently and accurately”

      This sounds like an over-complicated solution. I propose instead
      “go make a ton of money”
      This solution skips many of the middle steps and is significantly less risky than what you proposed.

  • Anonymous

    thanks Vinicius, this assures me that I am somewhat not doomed to ever build something myself. will check out your other posts! 🙂

    • http://viniciusvacanti.com Vinicius Vacanti

      Definitely not doomed. Good luck!

  • Anonymous

    thanks Vinicius, this assures me that I am somewhat not doomed to ever build something myself. will check out your other posts! 🙂

    • http://viniciusvacanti.com Vinicius Vacanti

      Definitely not doomed. Good luck!

  • Campbell McKellar

    Vini, awesome post. I love your blog!

    • http://viniciusvacanti.com Vinicius Vacanti

      Thanks Campbell!

  • Campbell McKellar

    Vini, awesome post. I love your blog!

    • http://viniciusvacanti.com Vinicius Vacanti

      Thanks Campbell!

  • Kennyklee

    Wow, a friend recommended this article post, and amazed how timely this article was for me (non-programmer). I spent most of my days (past 6 months), pondering about this exact topic…to a point where I feel paralyzed. BUT, I have started to take XHTML/Javascript/PHP/MSQL classes to get me started. Question: When you were learning programming/prototyping, did you have a day job? Or were you 100% dedicated to learning how to program?

  • Kennyklee

    Wow, a friend recommended this article post, and amazed how timely this article was for me (non-programmer). I spent most of my days (past 6 months), pondering about this exact topic…to a point where I feel paralyzed. BUT, I have started to take XHTML/Javascript/PHP/MSQL classes to get me started. Question: When you were learning programming/prototyping, did you have a day job? Or were you 100% dedicated to learning how to program?

  • Pedro Daltro

    Hi Vinicius, i want learn to code, can you help giving some directions? i never know wich language to learn and what is the best way to do it (books, courses, e-learning?).

    Thks!

  • http://polycademy.com/ Roger Qiu

    Great write up Vinicius Vacanti, these are the kind of people I hope to help bring their idea into existence, and bring them together with mentors, potential investors and potential employers. I launched Polycademy, a in-person school for web application entrepreneurship in Australia. Check us out at http://polycademy.com

  • http://www.guizishanren.com/ Herbert Yang

    this series just gets better and better!