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Featured on Oct 13, 2011

Will Lerner

"To start press any key. Where's the 'any' key? - Homer Simpson"


While I don't love eating leaves and my neck is pretty proportionate, I'm the co-founder of, a small product and strategy shop in NYC. We help non technical entrepreneurs build the first version of their mobile or web products. We also help them learn more about giraffes, if they're interested. For my part, I do a lot of development, some UI design, and I write a bit of copy. Before StartupGiraffe, I worked at an awesome web products company in India and taught English in China, amongst other things. In my spare time, I enjoy karaoke and butchering foreign languages.

The company name StartupGiraffe is fairly unique.  How did your team come up with the name?  More importantly, how did your team come together?

We spent $50,000 on a naming expert.  Just kidding.  We wanted a name that was fun and memorable, but not too silly (so Super Startup Bros. III was out).  I think John, our CTO, came up with the name during a prolonged discussion between the three of use about our favorite animals.  Although my favorite animal is the octopus, StartupOctopus just doesn't have the same ring to it.  

We came together about a year ago to work on a startup together.  I had been working with Amit at an Indian tech company in Mumbai, and when we came back to the USA we were able to convince John, who had gone to college with us at Northwestern, to come work with us.  The startup didn't take off, but we liked working together, so we did a few more projects.  Eventually, we realized that we'd gotten pretty good at building minimum viable products quickly, so we made a business out of doing just that.

What’s your fondest memory post college?

Tough call.  I'd have to say my top 3 are having Thanksgiving with my family every year, hiking the Lost Coast in California with a bunch of good friends, and finishing our first StartupGiraffe project.

How do you decide what clients to take on at StartupGiraffe?  

We've been lucky to work with some really smart and creative people in our first half dozen projects.  On the whole, these people are passionate about finding customer feedback and eager to figure out how to improve their products.  They've also been very open to working with us on how to craft a simple product that might not include every single feature they originally wanted, but effectively tests their core product goal.
In general, we like to work with people who have experience in or extensive knowledge of the market they're trying to enter.  We also really like to see some basic market research or "ghetto testing" that supports the entrepreneur's hypothesis. 

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