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Featured on Jun 17, 2011

Amit Klein

"When you come to a fork in the road, take it. - Yogi Berra"


I love the internet and have tried (and failed) numerous times to make it better. I've done the corporate software monkey gig (hated it), worked in the agency world (getting better), managed products for a big company (almost there) and finally started working on my own projects (hooray). Our latest company, StartupGiraffe, is a strategy, design and development shop focused exclusively on turning other people's ideas into minimum viable products. It's awesome helping people get ideas out of their head and into the real world.

Before moving back to NY, I spent two years in India where I met the Dalai Lama and ate a lot of dosas. For fun, I dish and swish on the basketball court and teach my new dog old tricks. I'm only purple sometimes.

  • Title: Ruby Developer, Chief Email Answerer, Hindi Poet
  • Age: 28
  • Location: SoHo, Park Slope
  • Contact: @amitklein

What's the motivation behind StartupGiraffe?  Why focus on first versions of products?

There aren't a lot of options there for non-technical entrepreneurs to get their products off the ground.  There's a chicken and egg problem where founders need funding to build products, but angels usually want to see product (and traction) before they invest.  We're trying to fill that gap by providing a way for people to quickly and affordably see if their idea has legs.  We love working on first iterations because there's a ton of room for creative problem solving. 

You taught a Web Marketing course for a semester at India’s top three business schools in India (ISB, NMIMS and SPJain). What things have you learned from teaching others about Web Marketing? Do you think you will continue to teach this topic (or others) further down the road?

The first thing I learned is that teaching is a lot more work then I expected.  The preparation involved and domain knowledge required is far more then I initially expected.  To teach you also have to be a great improvisor.  There are times where I had way less material then I expected in a session and had to make up activities and group discussions on the fly.  I also believe that great marketers have a strong creative and analytical streak.  Understanding how to measure ROI and effectiveness of campaigns is a skill that is tough (but not impossible) to teach.  I love teaching but I think I'm done with the classroom in the short term.  I want to build cool stuff.

Your goals include trying to make the Internet better. What do you think are some key problems that the Internet is still experiencing now in 2011?

There's a few big issues out there:
1)  Content creation has become so easy that there is way too much noise.  I'm fascinated by tools that allow you to personalize, search and curate relevant content.  Greplin, and Discovr are all doing really cool stuff in this space.
2)  We don't do a great job of leveraging the mobile web to facilitate real-world interactions.  I love companies like Zaarly, Getaround and Friendslist that are making it easier for people to accomplish stuff in the real world.
3)  From a technology standpoint it's too hard to develop for multiple platforms (mobile, tablet, desktop).  Companies like Onswipe, Phonegap and ParticleCode will continue to make this easier.

Why choose a giraffe as your token animal?

Because Giraffes (like us) can eat for 16 hours a day.  Giraffes are awesome.

Ruby Developer, Technical Lead, PHP Developer, CTO, CEO