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Ask HN: Socialize to make software
74 points by v_ignatyev on Jan 6, 2015 | hide | past | favorite | 25 comments
I live in Russia, in a small town, not in Moscow and not in St. Petersburg.

There are too few passionate programmers around me who are good enough and who want to work for free or at least for food first time, or to take part in hackathons for making and prototyping ideas and making great product.

I'm looking for opportunities for my personal and professional growth. I want to find friends and partners in the USA to build software and hardware together and run startup company in the USA. Just because I think the USA markets are huge in the comparison to russian markets.

I think, changing the location could open up some benefits, though it has disadvantages too.

I have for now B1/B2 visa, but I have no ideas where to go and what community to meet or join in the USA for the first time to make good networking related to tech entrepreneurship and making software. And how to create reliable relations to expand them when I'll go back.

So, what would you do if you was me? Try to make success story here or change location?

Thanks for help, HN

I am in a similar boat (living in China) and HN is really my only way of keeping in touch with the startup/hacker community and "socialising". I really wish there was a IRC channel/website dedicated to people in our situation who are looking to socialise or collaborate together on projects/startups.

I was thinking about this problem recently and one idea that I came up with was to build a "MVP league" that would combine aspects of eSports leagues and online hackatons (e.g. Node Knockout). Participants could form teams and submit a new MVP every X weeks. Another option would be to have theme/technology based tournaments (e.g. "open source", "node.js", "education"). Winners could be selected after each cycle, new teams could be formed, there could be a leaderboard of teams/participants, etc. Sponsors could offer prizes to winners or investors could offer funding.

There are already a couple of websites that aggregate online hackatons (http://challengepost.com, http://www.wehack.it/) but I haven't seen one that operates as a league and most online hackatons are one off things or once a year things.

Curious to hear HN's thoughts...

PS: I added #lfl on Freenode to my auto-join if anyone wants to hang out :)

There is https://assembly.com/. It's not hackaton oriented but it connects people that want to build things.

Since you mentioned IRC, checkout #Startup on Slack. It raised some attention on ProductHunt: http://www.producthunt.com/posts/startup-2.

There is #startups in freenode, and there are lots of programming channels, and if you hang in them long enough you can start socializing with folks in there.

Have you already took part in one of virtual/online hackathons?

to take part in virtual hackatons you need to know people.

wrong. look at https://github.com/koding/global.hackathon/tree/master/Teams...

our two man team is random. Some guy joined me for the hackathon, because he hadn't got idea what to do and he was following me in Twitter and read my ask for help.

I'm kind of in a similiar boat. I'm currently based in a small town outside of Seattle called Olympia, where there is really know tech/start-up scene. But I see the potential in this town to harbor start-ups and innovation.

Pretty much south of seattle, it's going to be hard for dev and entreprenuers alike to start-up.

So I started a small business that I work in with my free time, to help build a foundation for people to learn code, brainstorm ideas, and start businesses. I do free code classes via meetup, and I'm working on getting something weekly in motion, and hackathons.

And since I've started my group has been getting a lot of interest and support from the community and even the county.

I plan to keep at it, until there is a solid foundation for people interested.

I don't know the demographics of your town, but the concept I started might be something you could give a trial at.

And if it doesn't work out, or pick up interest. Then abandon ship and make your success story.

I'm in Seattle and I'd like to know more about what you're doing.

Same here. Let's hear more!

Do you have a website yet for your efforts?

A lot of people here will recommend Silicon Valley, but I am not one of them.

I believe you will find New York more hospitable. Here we have investors, technologists, and an extremely diverse culture with accommodations and activities for a wide range of budgets and tastes. А тут у нас много русских. Foreigners and non-native English speakers here are just the norm, they are pervasive and not treated like second-class citizens. My experience in the rest of the country is not so welcoming, even in the SF Bay area.

For what it sounds like you want to do, I would suggest coming to the Silicon Valley. There are hundreds of meetups every month and many opportunities to meet and work with talented developers (also there is a hackathon every weekend here).

I am a Russian American (I speak Russian fluently) and I would be happy to connect and show you around once you are here.

it's great! haha ) touch me in Skype? vladimir.ignatyev

I think it depends if you can find 'customers' for the projects or tech you're passionate about. Anyway, i think the best could be try to do both. Ie, create a link with California and at the same time, star to gather people locally. Become a connector with the 'Valley' and meet people in your town doing the same and help each other.

While the US is likely the largest market, there are plenty of opportunities elsewhere. Ignoring those might be part of your strategy, however if you are willing to take look at what Europe or Asia have to offer you might be facing something quite unexpected as there are tech start-ups everywhere.

I live in Finland and there is an emerging start-up scene here already. Also there are plenty of older, steady-going companies, that have proven business models, who have start-up mindsets towards new things.

If your plan is to create a thriving project that aims to address a specific business problem, you are going to need a group (even small) of likely minded people. There should not be any "work for food"-ethics attached. No body will work for you for food, but many people are willing to work to create something they believe in.

Why exactly do you want to be in the US? I've lived in Moscow and St. Petersburg for quite some time. It is hard to imagine, that you won't find anyone in those cities with summed population of almost 20 million, who is willing to work with you on your or their ideas.

Moving to Moscow is not an option if you are going to spend time writing code and talking to customers, not go for hours in a subway

It depends. Do you prefer telecommuting or face to face interaction?

Technological globalization has created a situation where, excluding time zone differences, we could communicate in a way that is extremely similar to face to face contact.

Speaking from personal experience, a coding bootcamp might be a good opportunity for you, assuming it is cost effective. Through a coding bootcamp you will have the opportunity to network in regards to tech entrepreneurship and software in general, as well as developing a higher skill level, however you may be proficient enough already.

If I were you I would make a table of pros and cons, based on as many factors as I found to be very important, attribute weights with those factors and make a decision based on the results. Or you could flip a coin and see which side you want it to land on in mid air. That will give you a good idea of which one is more favored by your spinal cord at least.

It's a tough question, good luck!

I prefer face to face, just because from the retrospective of my experience such links are more reliable.

Thanks for sharing ideas!

I also have similar situation - I live in Dubai - and don't have many passionate programmers here. After lot of reading and research I have realized that it is very important to work with good programmers like in USA in order to grow and moving physically to Silicon Valley is the best option but if you like your country and have a family to look after you can also try remote jobs.. if you look at remote working with companies in USA it will be almost as beneficial as working as physically present there.

e.g. https://angel.co/jobs http://remoteworking.co http://careers.stackoverflow.com/jobs

You can also try contributing to open source projects on github until you find a way to be around good programmers

I am in the exact same situation as you. I live in Sharjah. my github: https://github.com/hammadfauz Most of the times, I want to make something, but I have no idea what. If you or anyone has something neat to do, I'll be glad to participate.

I am going to suggest for you to go visit San Francisco, stay in a hacker or startup house. Try a few, some are awesome, some are bad, depends on the guests. Smaller houses are more casual, but bigger houses often host events or team up to travel together to nearby events. Plan to stay around 2 months to really get the feel of how things work. Check if Stanford or some other university hosts a startup camp of some sort. I feel like you should stay away from actual hackathons in the valley, but I may be wrong. Also the winter is warm in San Francisco, so you get to move around easily and it attracts more traveling hackers from around the world. Another thing - don't focus too much on the engineering part - don't dismiss artwork, design, and sales people.

FWIW You may be interested in an app I'm building which allows people who work remotely (or in remote places) to socialize with other people who work remotely. The idea is to allow people such as yourself who are interested in tech to have "water cooler"-style conversations even if they are removed from the tech scene.

Feel free to give it a go: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/water-cooler-chat/id94476300...

You might find some interesting people on there to talk to, it's still early days and currently only my friends are using it so far, but we're a friendly, interesting bunch of people :)

Do you have a degree related to software engineering / computer science? What's your email address? Put it in your profile and I'll contact you.

If I were you I would change location if possible. Generally it's harder to change your environment than to just move to a better one. I recommend the SF Bay Area because it's the most tech friendly, and can recommend some places nearby where you'll have access to the Bay Area but live cheaper if you're not moving here to work for a big company.

No, I have degree in power supply systems engineering and power electronics. My e-mail is ya.na.pochte@gmail.com and skype is vladimir.ignatyev. Follow me on Twitter: @v_ignatyev I do a lot of retweets about tech and entrepreneurship, following up trending topics.

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