Sid Saha

Developer. Growth Hacker. Entrepreneur.

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An easier way to read?

Everybody needs their reading dose - general articles on various topics to read at leisure. And everyone of us, if you think about it, hates searching for it. Who doesn’t like anything which comes on a platter!

How do you get your daily reading dose and read them? Newsletters, RSS feeds, bookmarks et al. Now how do you read them? I mostly send the articles to Pocket and read it later on my phone.

Pocket is awesome for reading. I like their typography - it’s pleasing to the eye. And it does a good job of creating the article view (images sometimes are a little off).

Most of the content I discover comes from Twitter.

Could there an app which I would open up and it gives me good content from twitter categorised by topic and add to my reading list with the article view and other niceties that comes with Pocket.

I am also exploring and using IFTTT app and they something cool which

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Building a pay-as-use billing system on Stripe

automatic_billing.png

Stripe, as we all know, is incredible. It allows complete flexibility to build over it with neatly designed APIs. At ShopSocially, as we are looking to scale up with a lot many customers we felt to need to have a completely automated billing system - the requirements of which sounded pretty complex when we began. Being the application architect, I was responsible for designing the solution and I am proud of the solution which we built - it is elegant and simple. This post attempts to outline the requirements of the system and how we designed the solution. Hopefully, it will be an indication on what you can build on Stripe.

 Our Requirements

We have two classes of customers whom we need to bill.

  • Customers with a credit card on file - These types of customers need to have a monthly base price and overage charges based on their usage for the month.
  • Customers on Manual Invoice -

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A valuable Product

I have always wondered on how to make a valuable product. I read a lot of blogs and articles which talk about making valuable products which people love to use. I have built a few products myself.

This confused me. People have a lot to talk about on how to make valuable products - build features that your customers want, build features that your competitors are building, polish features to make using it a pleasure. I decided to find out on my own on what makes a valuable product.

Recently, on my trip to the US I found a lot of time to look at many products, talk to those companies and listen to their sales pitch. In the end, what struck me most was that only those products which talk about solving one problem were the those I ended up exploring more.

I reached a definite conclusion here. A product which solves just one problem, has a simple value proposition so that it is easy to

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A company blog is not a sales pitch

Maintaining a company blog is hard work. It takes creativity, perseverance and “a human touch”.

I look at a lot of company blogs - some of them do a stellar job and some just suck. From my observation of which company blogs I like, there are some common characteristics which are common across all of them. And, well there are common characteristics across the bad ones too.

The best way to kill a company blog is using it as a sales pitch. It’s true that you want leads and conversions from the company blog but a sales pitch will never get you there. Blogs are meant to be read - and followed. Do you ever like to follow sales pitches? It’s like watching only commercials on TV. When I read and follow something / somebody, my question is always - What’s in it for me? Will I get entertained and educated?

A common characteristic of good company blogs is that they all act as mentors to the

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The Anchor

I was reading about an interesting concept on how our brains processes questions to find answers.

Our brains work in two ways when answering a question. a) We already know the answer of a fact based question such as “Who is the President of the United States?” and thus use the Automatic System. b) We do not know the answer of a question such as “How happy are you?” and use the Reflective System of the brain. The Reflective System is interesting as in it is affected by external things and so it is easier to influence.

To take the example of the question “How happy are you?”. Suppose, I ask this question to you in the following manner.

  • When was the last time you dated?
  • How happy your life is?

Your answer to the second question will probably depend on what is your answer to the first question. Gee, I haven’t had a date in a year, my life should suck.

But if you reverse the order of

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Brainstorming & Ideas

I hear a lot about brainstorming - sorry for my naivety, but for a long time after I heard this term first, I did not know the meaning of the term. On researching on the internet, the best definition that I could get for brainstorming is, It’s a group creativity technique by which efforts are made to find a conclusion to a problem by gathering ideas spontaneously contributed by the members.

This got me thinking on how do I come up with / cook ideas. And I concluded that brainstorming, in the traditional sense, is not the best way for me to come up with ideas. On further reflection, here is how I think about new ideas and bring it to a conclusion.

  1. Ideas come naturally when thinking alone - Though this goes completely against the whole idea of brainstorming, but I generate the best ideas quickly when thinking alone. I gather this might be because of the social issues that make me hold

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Writing

I have recently took up writing as a resolution. This is my fourth blog post in two weeks - not that I am writing as much as I would like to but I am proud of picking this up back again.

I believe everybody should write. It’s very beneficial for self and for other people as well. People read your ideas and will generally tell you what they think. Reading the comments from other people gives you an insight on what they think and this helps you in understanding them and reflecting on your ideas. Feedback is always good!

However, writing takes a lot of inspiration and dedication. You got to have reasons to write. Here are my reasons.

  1. Writing for Self - Before writing for someone else, always write for yourself first. Writing is meant to move your heart, your mind and your soul - not just the page meter. I view writing as a way of personal development and not as a way for business

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Working Smarter

…as opposed to working harder.

Everybody talks about working harder everyday. Specially in the tech startup world, it’s kind of fashionable to work 14-hours days and boast about it on Twitter later.

As with business metrics, your work life should have its own metrics. In my opinion, the only metric that you can (should?) measure is how much actually gets done. It’s easy to spend a lot of time reading around the web and doing things that do not contribute anything to your actual work. This is probably the only metric that you should measure.

Working smarter is all about getting more done in small time. I believe the easiest way to do this is to respect your natural attention span.

I had read somewhere about a hard-working woodcutter. The woodcutter used to go in everyday into the woods and works non-stop cutting down tress with his saw. As he keeps cutting down trees, his saw gets

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Music and Technology

Music is life. There are very few things that give me as much pleasure as listening to good music. I know for a fact that I have a good taste in music and I love listening to new music.

The other best thing for me is technology. Building technology, using technology. I believe the best inventions of mankind come from technology. Technology is one of the major things which is taking the human race forward.

Music and Technology - a deadly combo. Never before did we have access to so much music with so little effort to put in. People now can listen to good music so easily that it has become second nature. Some notable technology companies that work in this space are Spotify, 8tracks and Saavn.

Having said that, the problem which I face is discovering new music which I like. Auto recommendations does work but a lot still needs to be done. Ideally all I should have to do is start an app on

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How much design should a developer know?

We often talk about and read about the importance of design in building products. After Apple, maybe, more people appreciate classy design more than they used to. We have all but established the importance of design.

We also talk and read about how much code should a designer understand - in the advent of the developer and designer working closely, this boosts productivity by quite a magnitude. A designer who understands the limitations of the platform she is designing for often designs implementable and better designs.

I wonder though how much do we talk about the need for developers understanding design and be able to play around with a few design tools being used in general. I, for one, have never started photoshop and opened an image. In my opinion, developers understanding design could be a big boost. The one who is building the product from the ground up should have a more

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