What: LateLabs is a platform that allows developers to trade code for equity in startups.
Where: San Francisco
Who: We spoke to Justin Elof Justin and Nathan Ross, Co-Founders
What was the hunch that got you started?
We’ve been entrepreneurs on several projects together and always found we needed more development resources for them. It’s so hard to find developer resources because there is a huge shortage of people to do that work. At the same time everyone has their side projects, whether as an experiment in technology or a passion project. We saw this as an opportunity to get developers on board to donate their extra time for equity. We brainstormed to see how we could make this really work out without coming across like headhunters. Nathan threw together a website in 48 hours and within two weeks 3000 developers had signed up. We were expecting 50-100 maybe. It even crashed our server briefly. We had the right idea at the right time and it all fell together really quickly.
What have you learned? How have you failed? How have you had to pivot?
We took advantage of the lean startup methodology, where you come up with a hypothesis and test it as quickly as you can. Because of this we failed in that we had no proper infrastructure set up. We had to hustle because we weren’t prepared for such a high response so quickly.
What is your team like? Company culture?
Currently it’s just the two of us. Justin runs the business and I (Nathan) run creative and marketing. We are currently interviewing for a technology co-founder position. Nathan knows some code, so we have done well for now, but need to get to the next level, after which we will probably need to grow quickly. We hope to add 6-10 people in the next year, hopefully even in the next six months.
What is your plan for monetization?
We are community driven. We let the community decide which projects we invest in, but we focus on ones with clear monetization plans.
What can brands learn from you?
Moving quickly and testing our ideas with the public is what made us successful early on. We didn’t advertise in the traditional sense. Development resources are valuable. They are constantly hit up by head hunters, so we are just creating a new opportunity to get developers equity in meaningful projects. Brands should be thinking of the real value they are giving to their consumers, not just in the long term, but in the short term too. Take us, for example. We didn’t spend the time building a prototype or a site or even a campaign, we put our hypothesis out into the world and then made changes and updates based on the response. Brands need to move quickly and efficiently. They should ask themselves what they can do with the least amount of work and effort.