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Category: Business and Start-ups

Autonomous Peer Learning at and How You Can Do it in Your Organization

This article was originally published for’s Technology blog on November 23rd, 2016.

Continuous learning on the job is hard. We all see things we want to improve, but maybe we’re missing a few skills to really make an impact. With most days filled with emails and meetings, there’s often not much time left for learning, no matter how much we want to develop our skills.

Although many organizations try to remedy this issue by employing external companies to handle training, they rarely follow-up to ensure such trainings are actually value for money. Not only that, employees are often left to figure out how their new skills can be applied to daily work, and sometimes they are even left wondering if the training taught them anything useful at all.

I work at as an engineering manager, and in my job I wanted to learn about a topic for which there was no formal training. I ended up creating a study group that became the blueprint for autonomous peer learning in our Technology department. It’s an initiative that has been scaled to 50 Peer-to-Peer (or P2P) learning groups over the last 18 months.

The premise of P2P groups is that participants take the time to think about what they want to learn and why. This means their learning is tailored from the very beginning, ensuring that it is both relevant to their work and beneficial to their organization.

Europe is not ready for drop-shipping

I heard about drop-shipping for the first time a few months ago, when I stumbled upon an AMAA on Reddit with some guy claiming he was making $100k per month running drop-shipping websites. This guy also apparently verified the information with some mods of the AMAA sub-reddit, and provided a short introductory guide to drop-shipping that he later removed. Lucky me, I also bookmarked the link to the guide when I bookmarked the AMAA, here is the guide he made. The guide includes, at the very end, a list of the companies that he is using for his marketing. Some comments on Hacker News about this AMAA said that this looks like a scam aimed at promoting those companies.

After reading the post on Reddit, I started to look into drop-shipping as a possibility for creating a small business that would generate small but steady revenue. I already explored other options, as documented in a previous blog post about micro-ISVs. Here is what I found and what I think about drop-shipping.

Immersive design and the power of visualization

Some websites and web apps are using what I call “immersive design.” I have been researching blogs and magazines in hope for a proper name, and it seems that it is referred as “full-screen background“. I do not like this name because I do not find it descriptive enough. Technically, all backgrounds are filling the full screen, otherwise websites would look like crap. So I had to come up with my own name, immersive design, and a definition for it:

Immersive design is the use of a full-screen background image as the main design feature in a website, with the goal of creating a strong emotional impact on the user.

The term “immersive” puts more weight on the intent rather than the means. A full-screen background image is just a technical detail. The feeling of emotional immersion in the website is the real marketing value.

In this article, I am explaining why I am convinced that immersive design is one of the strongest yet underrated on-line marketing tools. I am also showing a few examples of immersive designs that I have been collecting while surfing the Internet.

How I successfully tested and rejected two niche markets using online surveys

I recently got some interest for micro-ISV projects (micro independent software vendor). These are small products/startups that require minimal time and financial investment, and generate small but steady revenue. The idea is that I would not build it myself, I would outsource it so that I can focus on other things than code. The time investment I am aiming at is around 4-6 hours per week. I am now researching niche markets in an attempt to create my first micro-ISV.

The paths followed by successful micro-ISVs have similarities, as they all include testing the market before doing anything else. Testing can take various forms, it can be a sales website, a prototype, or even a shadow product (faking the product and doing the computer’s work by hand before spending time actually coding the product). I recently had a couple of ideas for micro-ISVs and I wanted to test them before building anything, instead of wasting time coding something nobody wants. So here is at the story of how I tested and rejected two niche markets using online surveys. Please note that I am not explaining how I designed the surveys, but just what was the process of using surveys as a way to test niche markets. I will cover survey design in a future article.

The Gold Rush of Software

During the Gold Rush of California in 1849, thousands of men were ready to put at stake all they had in the hope of a better life. The software industry that we are currently experiencing shows, to a certain extent, very similar patterns. Smartphone and source code have replaced the traditional pick and scoop, however the goals and hopes remained the same. But is there anything for developers to expect from this gold rush of software?