4 months ago I launched this little experiment called Startup Drugz. The concept was simple; create tees and posters that are brutally honest about the startup world. I wanted the brand to be the anti Startup Vitamins (disclaimer: I love Startup Vitamins and currently have 4 of their posters in my apartment). The day we launched I knew we were on to something. Within 24 hours launching we received 520+ upvotes on Product Hunt and 25k unique visitors flooded our brand new site. Flash forward to today and things couldn't be going any better. We've sold shirts to thousands of incredible people in over 15 countries.
So why am I telling you this? Well, I'm telling you this relatively boring origin story because I want you to know what this brand is really about. It's about you. From day one, Startup Drugz has been about celebrating the kick-ass entrepreneurs who make this world a better place. The people who take huge risks and fail time after time, but continue to pick themselves up and push forward. The people who hear no every single day, but stay motivated and keep seeking out that one yes they know is out there. The people who haven't taken a day off in so long that they forget what it's like to not work 24/7. The people who don't just break the rules, they change the game for all of us. Our brand is about these people. We share their passion and use is as rocket fuel to create each tee and poster you see on our site.
As you can tell by my rant in the last paragraph, I love entrepreneurs and I love our customers. One of the coolest perks of running Startup Drugz is getting to know our customers. I wanted a way to highlight and promote them, which led to the creation of our Drugz Lover Spotlight. So without further ado, here is Drugz Lover Spotlight #1 with the awesome James Jelinek!
Tell us a little about yourself and what you do professionally.
Hi, I’m James Jelinek, I go by shakycode on the interweb. (Yes, I’m a brand!). I’ve been in the technology space for the last 15 years professionally mostly from the ops side of things. In the last 4 years I’ve become deeply intimate with development and the dev culture. I'm also a self-proclaimed DevOps rock star (Ok, so I still have problems configuring Chef). For the last 8 years I've worked heavily in the startup space and I find myself naturally gravitating towards it. What I do professionally varies on a day to day basis (as is the norm in the startup world), but most days I’m writing Ruby (Rails) and working on DevOpsy stuff. The words “hustling” and “baller” come to mind. :)
What's your favorite thing about working in the startup world?
My favorite thing about working in the startup world can be summed up with one word, “Unpredictability”. There’s this magic which is hard to describe which can be likened to that of “Organized Chaos” which is the core of the startup culture. Let’s break it down for a moment. You have a small group of talented and intelligent people working their ass off to come up with great solutions to really tough problems. This sort of “engine” breeds chaos and unpredictability. As a result there’s never a dull moment in the startup world and you’re always working on something different. One day I might be coding ruby and the next I might be building infrastructure for scale and the next I might be going on a lunch run for the team. Life is never static in a startup environment.
What’s your least favorite thing about working the startup world?
This is a tough question to answer because I’m so passionate about the startup culture as a whole. But if I were to pick one thing it would be job security. Let’s face it, it’s 2015 and job security is total bullshit and is pretty much nonexistent unless you’re a USPS postman. But in the startup space job security can be even more fragile. Most startups (most smart startups that is) run very lean. Even well funded and profitable startups run lean so keeping the bottom line is extremely important if you’re going to stay in the black. If a startup doesn’t show profitability and/or viability in a reasonable amount of time, heads start to roll. So when you aren’t profitable and/or funded with enough burn to keep the company running it can be stressful as an employee when you find out that your startup is in the red. I’ve been there before and it’s a tough pill to swallow, but with risk comes reward. If you want stability, go work for a fortune 100 and do the same shit every day until you’re 60, retire on your pension, and realize that your work was pretty much meaningless.
What’s your favorite startup right now?
I’m huge on communication and customer engagement. A startup that has really piqued my interest and has me excited is intercom.io. They’ve got a great product that allows customers to be heard and provides a sick API that allows you to integrate their chat and messaging system into your existing apps. They are hot right now, definitely one to watch. Also, not to blow smoke up your skirt, but I’m really digging Startup Drugz. You have popped up out of nowhere and have taken the gear scene by storm.
How did you hear about us and what led you to buying your first tee?
Actually I heard about Startup Drugz on Twitter. I was looking at some Tweets (#startup) and saw your company’s name. The two words, “Startup Drugz” hit me like a ton of bricks and piqued my curiosity instantly The brand name alone was so strong that I couldn’t help but pursue your site to find out more. I browsed the site and thought to myself, “wow these guys have rocked the shit out of the startup space and are sending a clear message”. I wanted to show my support and rock some cool gear so I ordered my first t-shirt from you. The rest is history! I’m hooked on Drugz.
What was the first tee you bought and why did you buy it?
The first t-shirt I bought was the Team Periscope t-shirt. I’m big on branding and showing support for startups I believe in. You had so many great shirts it was hard to choose but I had to choose one to gauge print and material quality. Being a daily Periscope broadcaster I'd been waiting for someone to put one out. Boom, there it was staring me in the face. 45 seconds and a credit card charge later, I owned a great piece of branding. Since then I’ve ordered other shirts and plan to continue my collection rapidly.
What do you love about Startup Drugz?
It’s more like what’s not to love about Startup Drugz. But seriously, what I love most is that you guys take a no bullshit approach to the startup space. You tell it like it is because you've actually lived it (and are living it daily) so your t-shirts and posters really represent what the startup vibe is all about. On top of that you have high-quality and original products that no one can touch. Lastly you are transparent which is really what a startup should be. At any time I can reach out to the owner of the company or a customer service representative and get quick and detailed answers to any questions that I may have. Startup Drugz loves their customers and it’s evident in how your business is conducted. I also really dig the ambassador program, Loot! App tie in, and the fact that you welcome new t-shirt and poster ideas from your community. Which reminds me, I have about 10 different ideas ready to ship, stay tuned!
We want to thank James for being our guinea pig and volunteering to be Drugz lover #1! You should definitely check out his blog at http://shakycode.com and follow him on Twitter @shakycode. If you are interested in being considered for a Drugz Lover Spotlight, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!