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MindQuilt: What's in your stack?

In this new series “What’s in your stack?” I ask various development teams what technologies, processes, and practices they use to write their applications, get them out the door, and do the ongoing care-and-feeding required.

MindQuilt is often described as a “private Quora,” the Yammer of the all the Q&A sites out there. They’re a relatively new and small startup in Austin, but with a fair amount of use, deploying their software as a SaaS. As such, they’re a good example of he new type of application development and delivery that I see a lot of now-a-days.

I asked their CEO, Dan Kim a few questions about their stack and process:

What’s MindQuilt do?

I’m CEO of MindQuilt Inc, a knowledge management platform to track, organization, and capture new knowledge and documentation so your company can reduce project and operational risks.

What tools, languages, and platforms are you using for development and delivering your

We use a python stack built on top of django. Mixpanel to track our funnel. We don’t watch people at all because we want to preserve people trust in putting their proprietary information on our platform. Instead, we use Olark so people can send in direct feedback or chat with us live if there is a problem.

Does python encourage spaghetti stacks? Is it more difficult to maintain long-term?

Yes it is a concern but that’s true of any language. Some languages (plus frameworks) combat spaghetti by forcing people into a rigid model but that tends to produce overly verbose code with lots of boiler plate. Additionally, it’s not spaghetti code that’s a problem but more spaghetti architecture. That’s outside of the scope of any language or framework. You need to do reviews often. No way around that.

What’s a tool that didn’t work out, and one that has worked surprisingly well?

We tried using Pivotal+Chat for a long long time. We found that it just didn’t work out so well for us. I think our team is too small. What has been working are daily calls between our US office and the technology team in Europe. If we need to share a screen we use GoToMeeting and screen-sharing.

What’s motivated you do off-shore development? What benefits are you getting?

We’re not really offshoring since:

  1. My CTO is Romanian and lives in Romania and I have worked with him in person for several years (in Germany and the UK).
  2. Our developers are full time employees with all benefits and stock options. They do nothing else but to work on MindQuilt.
  3. The primary reason for the dev staff to be in Romania is because that’s where my CTO is.

As for cost savings, yes we have a bit of cost savings over the market rate, but in a startup, you almost always have people working for under market rate because:

  • they are passionate about the product and have an equity stake
  • startups have no money

Disclosure: MindQuilt is a client.

Categories: Programming, What's in your stack?.

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