Answers.OnStartups: Community Q&A For Startup Entrepreneurs

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Answers.OnStartups: Community Q&A For Startup Entrepreneurs


I’m a big fan of a site called Stack Overflow.  It’s a surprisingly useful Q&A site for posting programming questions, and getting answers from the community.  The site has been immensely successful and is now often the first place I go to find answers to those vexing questions.  One of the things I like most about it is that both the questions and answers get voted on by the community.  As a result, the best stuff surfaces to the top.  You have to really use it to appreciate it.

In any case, I’m a big fan of the site.  So, I was thrilled when Joel Spolsky (who, along with Jeff Atwood of Coding Horror) decided to make the software that powers Stack Overflow available to others.  I immediately reached out to Joel to see if I could get early access to the software.  (I’m speaking at Joel’s Business of Software conference coming up in San Francisco, so we had communicated recently anyways). 

I got access to the software a little while ago and am pleased to announce that a new collaborative Q&A site for entrepreneurs is now launched and ready for your use. 

Here's the link:

I have a long list of exceptional entrepreneurs I know well enough to arm-twist into participating in the community. Here's a sample (in no specific order):

1) Adam Smith, Xobni

2) Drew Houston, DropBox

3) Jay Meattle, Shareaholic

4) Mike McDerment, FreshBooks

5) Neil Davidson, RedGate Software, Business of Software

6) Jeff Bennett, NameMedia

7) Brian Shin, Visible Measures

8) Sachin Agarwal, Posterous

9) Peldi Guilizonni, Balsamiq

10) David Cancel,, Performable

11) Brian Halligan, HubSpot

12) Alexis Ohanian, Reddit

13) Andy Payne, angel investor

14) Rand Fishkin, SEOmoz

15) Don Dodge, Microsoft

16) Nivi, VentureHacks

I've got many more, but you get the idea.  I know, I'm name-dropping a bit here, but I promise I will do my best into guilting these people to share their experience and insights. 

Here’s the link again:

Hope you’ll find it a useful resource.  If you have ideas on how we might make it better, please let me know.

Meanwhile, please help me spread the word.  The early days of a community like this are always the hardest (in a “chicken and egg” sort of way). 

Thanks for your support.

Posted by Dharmesh Shah on Thu, Oct 08, 2009


Thanks for this, Dharmesh. Innovative step by you. Should be useful if it picks up. Hope it does :) Since this is OnStartups, a little plug from me below ... 
- Vasudev 
Dancing Bison Enterprises 
Software products, consulting and training 
xtopdf: PDF creation from other file formats. 
PDFXMLRPC: Client-server PDF creation from text over the Internet. 
Both xtopdf and PDFXMLRPC are at:  
Dancing Bison Software Products 
Both xtopdf and PDFXMLRPC are written in Python, free for any use, and released under the BSD License. 
Info on prerequisites, download links, how to install and use them, etc., are all at the above products URL. 

posted on Friday, October 09, 2009 at 7:48 PM by Vasudev Ram

I am starting a NGO. Who can help me for the free legal service and other facilitations? 

posted on Friday, October 09, 2009 at 8:00 PM by Edwin

Thanks for the reference. We are hard at working adding new features to our I'm sure I will find useful info in this Q&A for startups.

posted on Friday, October 09, 2009 at 8:12 PM by Greg

Thanks for starting this up!

posted on Friday, October 09, 2009 at 8:32 PM by Alok Sinh

never heard of any of your entrepreneur friends or their firms. 
what do they do?

posted on Friday, October 09, 2009 at 8:39 PM by k. kemper

Your list of people is great. All have experience that can be shared. 
Stephen (Chef Steve) 

posted on Friday, October 09, 2009 at 8:49 PM by Stephen Pazyra

Great idea. Actually do recognise the names. In fact I was at Neil Davidson and Simon Galbraith's Red Gate Software on Wednesday and wrote a blog about inspiring workplaces. You keep good company. Would love any input from this group on how you can create an effective work environment. They have. Unusual in UK.

posted on Friday, October 09, 2009 at 8:54 PM by Mark Littlewood

I have started up a Credit Repair Service online. I contracted with a team of Lawyers to do all the legal work. As a result clients can improve their Credit Scores usually between 3 and 7 months.  

A one time Charge of $99.95 and $39.95 per month until the Credit is up to par. A Paralegal will provide a free initial consultation, and then begin work should the prospective client choose to proceed. 

I also provide a Home Mortgage Loan service for anyone wanting a home. I advise anyone wanting to buy a home to fix up their Credit Rating first. Then I work to get them a Home Loan, and work with their Real Estate Agent to find that perfect home.

posted on Friday, October 09, 2009 at 10:53 PM by Mr. Kim Laine Rozell

Wow, what a novel idea to bring all start-up ideas under one roof! 
BTW, liked the logo very much. Keep up the good work...

posted on Saturday, October 10, 2009 at 12:14 AM by Dhananjay Goyani

Who decided in 2009 the blue and orange were the colors EVERY new website should have? 
Other than that, this looks good. 

posted on Saturday, October 10, 2009 at 1:21 AM by lisa

Hey Dharmesh, tht wud be really good. There are tonnes of questions already poping up my mind. Hope to make best use of this opportunity. 

posted on Saturday, October 10, 2009 at 2:31 AM by Chanda |

Seems to be Good initiative and at the same time the Objective should  
definately be Result centric and not pure management Philosphy. 
Best Regds 

posted on Saturday, October 10, 2009 at 2:35 AM by Pranav Chaudhury

Looks like a good use of the Stack Exchange engine. Completely agree about the Chicken/Egg scenario though, and it would be interesting to see how that is overcome.

posted on Saturday, October 10, 2009 at 3:08 AM by Rowland Shaw

Great! I registered and made a few contributions. Looks like it's seeding nicely. BTW, how/where can download a copy of the software to check out? Thanks, Chris

posted on Saturday, October 10, 2009 at 4:46 AM by Chris Comella

Any idea from where I can check out source of stack overflow. I would like to integrate this feature into my website. 

posted on Saturday, October 10, 2009 at 4:59 AM by Nikhil

Excellent concept! 
While reading the comments, I came across Pranav's comment (from Talent Tree), I think that we might be able to work together 
Saleem Qureshi 

posted on Saturday, October 10, 2009 at 5:26 AM by Saleem Qureshi

As a startup owner, this looks like a great resource. Thanks for setting it up. You have some good names associated with it, I've definitely bookmarked it for the future.

posted on Saturday, October 10, 2009 at 5:36 AM by Vic Cherubini

Hello dharmesh, 
thanks for starting this up. i need to ask, how do i get the software? I'm in the middle of a startup project and i need to incorporate a question and answer segment like. 
I will be glad to read from you. 
I'm on twitter @adesojiadegbulu 

posted on Saturday, October 10, 2009 at 6:02 AM by Adesoji Adegbulu

This is my first comment. I´sorry but my english writing isn´t very good. 
Visit my web site abnd plesase give me tips for better positions on google. 
Best regards

posted on Saturday, October 10, 2009 at 6:42 AM by Nuno

Thank you for your work. At The Prescient Consulting Group, we advise and consult early stage companies in wise growth, marketing, strategic finance and the capital formation process. Do talk with us. Thom Park, Ph.D.

posted on Saturday, October 10, 2009 at 9:17 AM by Thom Park

Oh yeah! Exactly what the doctor ordered. As a fellow BizSpark startup, I was hoping to ping Adam Smith for some advice. We just finished up the Microsoft Windows 7 Incubation Week and learned a ton. BizSpark is such a great resource! 
For local Bostonians I started the Boston BizSpark Meetup group at Check it out! 
I also started up the Web Executives group on LinkedIn too at

posted on Saturday, October 10, 2009 at 9:18 AM by Marsh Sutherland

Logovision Wireless is a startup that has already developed a significant amount of software and appliciations for mobile video stream (especially live). We are moving along but are also looking for more financing - like everyone else, I guess. Maybe someone out there is interested in our area of business.

posted on Saturday, October 10, 2009 at 9:23 AM by Mark Krebs

Hi Everybody out there. I work for an EPFL start-up active in datamining and I have my own very low-tech company.  
For the latter, does anybody know wholetraders interested in importing exclusive collectibles manufactured in Switzerland and with an international connotation? 
Thank you in advance? 

posted on Saturday, October 10, 2009 at 10:36 AM by Daniel Martel

Wow great idea! I've been using StackOverflow for a while now (since I'm a technical founder) and I was very impressed with it. 
I've signed up and will be participating. 
By the way, StackOverflow inspired me to start this site for product reviews: 
I custom designed the software (didn't realize he was going to open source it) but many of the ideas behind it are similar. Would love to get your feedback.

posted on Saturday, October 10, 2009 at 10:45 AM by Brian Armstrong

Do you have plans adding RSS for at least new questions, or a kind of digest e-mail in case people don't want to go to the site every day to check for interesting questions?

posted on Saturday, October 10, 2009 at 12:43 PM by Roman

This is a great idea with a talented panel. However, would it not make sense to include successful women entrepreneurs as well?

posted on Saturday, October 10, 2009 at 2:00 PM by Constance Drew

You need to relax the 15 points constraint at least for voting up stories and comments (but don't allow downvotes except by "committed" users). Otherwise it's frustrating, because as a newbie it feels like I'm being treated as a second class citizen. 
Why should you care about this? Because frustrated users will probably not return.

posted on Saturday, October 10, 2009 at 2:36 PM by Anonymous Coward

Thanks for the kind words everyone. 
Roman: We already have an RSS feed of questions available. You can find it at (the link is in the bottom right corner -- I need to make it more visible). 
Anonymous Coward: I agree with you that the 15 reputation requirement is too high, but there's no way for me to control this right now. Will see if I can figure out a way. 

posted on Saturday, October 10, 2009 at 2:44 PM by Dharmesh Shah

It's brilliant! and nevertheless this depends on how generous and comprehensive the answers will be ?!

posted on Saturday, October 10, 2009 at 3:27 PM by nabil

If you are interested in transitioning from a FT job to a business, please let me know and maybe I could share some ideas that can work for you. This is a service and we can discuss details if you are interested. 
Dr. Shree

posted on Sunday, October 11, 2009 at 12:43 AM by Dr. Shree

Hi Dharmesh: 
Kudos to your initiative. 
Please check , an On-line EMR based health care portal, focusing Well being and preventive health care areas connecting users with Care providers.  
It offers Single secured storage of health records ( inclusive of Medical images), online appointment scheduling, On-line Video consultation, Digital prescription etc.  
It takes care of the following User constraints:  
1. Non- availability of secured, single source storage of personal /Family health records accessible from anywhere /anytime  
2.Non-availability of easy access to Care providers regularly for Preventive and reactive Health issues  
3.Non-availability of Expert guided Self managed services for an Individual towards lifestyle diseases  
4. Difficulties in Home care  
Wonder if you see some collaborative opportunity with other similar entrepreneurs in the on-line Telemedicine space. 
Subhashish Pal, 

posted on Sunday, October 11, 2009 at 8:19 AM by Subhashish Pal

Thank you for launching such an awesome and much-needed community! I know I will spend a lot of time on the site. And also thanks for signing my copy of Inbound Marketing at IMS09. I am buying a copy for every one of my customers.

posted on Sunday, October 11, 2009 at 1:48 PM by Daniel Lynton

I like your site but your spam on Twitter is rediculous. You send up to five a day and they are all very self-serving. Time to stop following you.

posted on Sunday, October 11, 2009 at 2:31 PM by RickB

RickB: Sorry, I didn't think I was that self-promotional on twitter. Will tone it down. Meanwhile, I totally understand if you want to unfollow. That's the beauty of the web -- you listen to who you want to listen to. 

posted on Sunday, October 11, 2009 at 2:41 PM by Dharmesh Shah

I don't want to engage haters, but I have to say that it's a shame for anyone to unfollow Dharmesh. If his posts seem self-serving, it's only because he's very successful and others enjoy learning from him.

posted on Sunday, October 11, 2009 at 3:03 PM by Daniel Lynton

agree w/ daniel lynton, keep tweeting your heart out dharmesh. i follow ppl who add value to the space they're passionate about. e.g. your tweets at inbound marketing summit last week were between perceptive, informative and amusing.  
but as you said, can't please everyone, and choice is definitely more prevalent today than ever before. looking fwd to your tweets at the mit startup bootcamp.

posted on Sunday, October 11, 2009 at 4:59 PM by Fan Bi

I am new to following him but six tweets in just a couple days to promote the answers site is a bit much. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. Leaving my comment up swung the meter to the positive. A lot of bloggers remove any criticism.

posted on Sunday, October 11, 2009 at 8:07 PM by RickB

This.Is.Great. Thank you.

posted on Monday, October 12, 2009 at 3:16 AM by Slavo

Looks promising but I keep getting errors sporadically. Sorry I'm too lazy to give you some actual useful diagnostic information but it's 10am and I haven't gone to bed yet.

posted on Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 11:47 AM by Vindexus

Vindexus: Thanks for visiting the site. We had some server issues today (the software is still beta), but things are working again now.

posted on Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 12:03 PM by Dharmesh Shah

(Darn, my comment didn't register last week. I said something like...) 
This will be a great addition to every startups' "virtual advisory board". Stack Overflow is a good one, and similar to our startup <a href=>Grupthink. 

posted on Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 1:47 PM by John

I have a question regarding entities such as Limited Liability Company and Series Limited Liability Companies. Does anyone know if New York State recongnizes or is considering adding Series Limited Liability Companies to its officially recongnized corporate/entity laws? I only know of Deleware and Nevada that are currently offering Series LLCs and a few that are considering adding this form of doing business. 
Does anyone have any input on the benefits or lack of compared to using the single LLC form vs the Series LLC.  
If a company intends to do business in a variety of states, is it better to have individual LLCs in each state or to have a Series LLC which you can have in a state where you do the majority of your work and then open another LLC (under the unbrella (so to speak) of the Series LLC but is limited to that state's LLC for that entities' liability, etc. 
Thanks and I hope some other members of this site can chime in with their own opinions on this type of formation.  

posted on Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 3:28 PM by Vic S.

Ok, I have been following this blog since last month. It is very informative.. my simple question is, how do these guys end up earning from sites like these? Like, say the Sachin guy left his Apple job to start a site where he puts up stuff sent to him by people? How can one monetize such a site? There are many others up there which don't ask for money directly from visitors. And I don't think so, adsense or any other such net marketing tools can pay anyone as much as Apple. So, yeah,... how?

posted on Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 8:03 AM by akkyy

Excellent! Startups is a great topic for a Q&A site. 
I'm "starting up" a site on the same software platform, but for personal finance. See Thanks! 

posted on Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 9:10 AM by Chris W. Rea

I've been curious how the Stack Overflow concept might be used outside of the tech areas and I'm really excited to see it support a community Entrepreneurial site.

posted on Saturday, October 17, 2009 at 12:16 PM by Bryan S.

Seeking a Chief Executive Officer / CEO 
The Art Garden is a fresh, new, for-profit concept that combines the cultural richness of a contemporary art museum, sculpture garden, and arboretum, with cultural attractions, artist’s demonstrations and entertainment in the open-air setting of Southern California.  
The Art Garden’s Partners are searching for a resourceful, passionate, high-energy, high-integrity entrepreneur who has the breadth of experience and social contacts to be an effective corporate fund-raiser and executive organizer, and who can be entrusted to bring forth this exciting vision.  
If you have these personal characteristics and professional experience and are looking for a unique blend of intellectually stimulating and financially challenging opportunities with significant contributions to local communities, reach out to us. A potentially profitable partnership may be in the path to your future. 
As this is a new startup, partnering with an astute chief executive with the expertise of developing funding in the 4-5 m range would be most interesting to us and profitable to you. 
Send us a letter of interest and a resume as the next step.  

posted on Saturday, October 17, 2009 at 4:23 PM by Don Wakefield

This is a good initiative on your part with a great list of entrepreneurs and great startups. 
Don't hesitate to let me know if you ever need someone on productivity tools for professionals - especially when it comes to time management and calendars.

posted on Monday, October 19, 2009 at 4:42 PM by Marc Gingras

You need to arm twist a bit more. There is some horrible advice there and no one with experience apparently - except for jason.

posted on Monday, November 02, 2009 at 10:17 PM by tim

Get your logo and website done

posted on Wednesday, November 04, 2009 at 2:28 AM by grant tailor

Dr Shree/Dharmesh, 
i am looking for new business ideas in the service industry. can you pls give some suggestions. 

posted on Sunday, November 22, 2009 at 7:24 AM by Ravi

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