tech startups

How to Build a Tech Startup if You Don’t Write Code

1) Come up with an idea that solves someone's problem. (Check out the ULTRA BrainStorm Workbook.)

2) Make a Powerpoint. Here's my example (I recorded it).

3) Go talk to 25 potential customers and show them your presentation. a) Try to sell it to them. b) Get feedback on your idea.

(Related: Crazy Might Work? The Importance of Market Validation)

4) Repeat step 3 until you have five people willing to pay for it (not a friend or family member).

5) Go to CoderNights and tell anyone willing to listen to you about your traction.


About the Author Steve Anderson is an entrepreneur who lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Steve is a co-founder of Snapifeye. He has a masters degree from the Wisconsin School of Business and is a previous Startup Weekend winner.

Startup of the Week: ubumm

by Karen Oliva ubummfounders

Maryann and Emily are avid travelers and co-founders of ubumm, an advising service dedicated to enhance, simplify and unify the study abroad experience for students.

While studying abroad for nearly eight years combined, ubumm was brought to life through their passion for creating a networking tool that provided insightful information on how to budget, improve and simplify experiences abroad.

Both Maryann and Emily continue to journey as they move and headquarter into Milwaukee.

ubumm was accepted into the inaugural class of the Startup Milwaukee Mentorship Program. I asked Maryann about her experiences in the Mentorship Program, travels abroad and the path that lead to ubumm.

How did ubumm come about?

One night while we were living on Lake Como in Italy, over a bottle of Italian red, we were discussing how difficult it was to meet fellow student travelers abroad. There was no platform for students to connect and help each other while they were abroad to save them money and time. 

For example, we recalled how different my initial study abroad experience was compared to Emily’s, who spoke the language and had been to Italy before. Emily was able to travel to Capri on 150 Euros while I paid 300 Euros through the university, and Emily was able to explore more of the island then I was. The reality is, when you first arrive in a new country, universities handle most of your necessities which can be costly. But if I had known students that were traveling at the same time, students who had been to Capri before, or students that were staying in Capri, I would have saved a lot of frustration and money.

From this, ubumm was born. We decided there was a necessity for students to connect while abroad and we want to facilitate those interactions.

Where did you start and why did you choose to move ubumm to Milwaukee?

Emily and I started in Lake Como and moved back stateside in 2011. Emily is from Wisconsin and I am from Florida. Initially, we have been working apart for two years, putting all of our waitress money and off hours into the business. A few months ago, Emily applied for Startup Milwaukee’s Mentorship Program and we have been pursuing Milwaukee ever since our acceptance into the program. Moving to Milwaukee just makes sense. Our mentors and programmers all reside in Milwaukee, which makes it a win-win! Not to mention the Milwaukee tech scene is very welcoming.

What are your upcoming goals and how does Milwaukee play a role in them?

We will be launching our mobile applications by the end of October. We hope this launch will allow students to connect around the world. Sasquatch Studios, our programmers based in Milwaukee, are an essential part of this project. In addition, our mentors are helping us reach our goal with their advice and support.

In fact, on November 16 we’re having a study abroad workshop at the Translator offices in Milwaukee to assist students and showcase our application. Our mentors have been essential in helping us create this event.

What do you think about the Milwaukee startup scene?

The startup scene in Milwaukee seems to be a very tight-nit community, but an open one. Everyone we have met in the Milwaukee startup scene has been very friendly and welcomingmaking it easier for us to make connections, grow our business and develop our entrepreneurial skills.

What are you looking forward to as you continue participating in the Startup Milwaukee Mentorship Program?

So far our mentors have been the most valuable part of the program. Our mentors have offered invaluable advice and are always willing to lend a hand. We hope to keep growing these relationships and Startup Milwaukee has been the key in fostering these relationships with their events and networking opportunities. We are excited to continue learning and growing from the program.


ubumm1Connect with ubumm:

Startup of the Week: Pointfall

image Pointfall was merely a joke in its infancy. In fact, the idea was a joke in the first place. The group deal/daily deal market has been duplicated many times over. Unfortunately, this market has been causing problems for businesses that use this specific type of marketing platform. The term “loss leader” has been thrown around, but those who have used the platform would actually be happy if a “loss lead” were even achieved. Through a downfall of sub par valuations, major players in the market continue to squirm and squeal with only the option to either invest more resources or chop heads. In many cases, both end points were reached.

After humoring themselves with the faults in the group deal industry, Pointfall Founder & CEO, Sean Tepper, suggested that the market should simply provide 100% revenue to businesses while charging a flat monthly fee for usage. The concept would have remained a joke, but Founder & COO, Nic DiStasio, commented on its brilliance and decided to do his homework on the industry. To their surprise, he found over 30 entities with the same profit sharing model which generated the same lackluster results for businesses.

At this time, Pointfall implemented a survey to the local market asking how much businesses would pay per month if they could keep 100% of the revenue from all group deal sales. The masses voted on a number, and Pointfall used that number to define their pricing structure.

In April of 2013, Pointfall became a legitimate business. They then made the decision to close down their existing marketing and advertising businesses in order to drive forward 100% with Pointfall.

“There is no better time to act then right now.”

  • Consumers: Save More by Using Points!
  • Businesses: Keep 100% of the Profits
  • Sales Representatives: Earn High Commissions

Key Facts:

  • Founders:Sean Tepper (CEO) Nic DiStasio (COO)
Founded: April 2013
Employees: Less than 10
Funding: Self funded by the revenues generated through our marketing and advertising service based businesses. No investors and no loans required.
  • HQ Location:Hudson Business Lounge, 310 N. Broadway, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53202
  • Website:

Startup of the Week: ZoomShift


Employee Scheduling Software

ZoomShift helps small businesses operate better by giving them an easy way to schedule and communicate with their employees. With ZoomShift managers can create and post schedules quickly, and send email and text message notifications to everyone in the group. Employees are then able to sign in and see when they work, trade shifts with other employees, make availability requests and communicate with the whole team from anywhere at any time.

ZoomShift is positioned as a simple solution to a complex problem and serves restaurants, retail stores, universities, customer support teams, volunteer organizations and many other small businesses - including Chick-Fil-A, Sonic, Plato’s Closet and Little Caesars to date. ZoomShift uses a freemium model to give groups a chance to try out the software for 30-days risk free. After the trial ends, groups can continue using ZoomShift for a monthly fee based on the number of employees in the group. Any group with five employees or less can use ZoomShift for free forever.

Recently, Zoomshift launched a new, fully mobile, responsive version of their software. They’ve seen an uptick in sign ups, including free trials from software giants such as Google, 37Signals and SquareSpace.