Manuel Schoebel
Friday, 17. January 2014

Meteor.js - The Perfect Match For Lean Startups

There are many ways to start an internet startup and I have seen different ones in practice and unfortunately I tried the worst myself and wasted a lot of time. It was my first startup attempt and I really did not have a clue what I was doing. Additionally we got nearly no advice even though we have been in a so called incubator. The approach we used back then was the 'Hack all day long' approach, added with a flavor of 'never ask if someone would use our stuff'. I can tell you: This approach is bad, really bad! There are mainly two reasons why it is so bad.

You lose time

Building a good product is not something you can do in one day, to be clear about that. But there is also a 'too long' depending on what you are doing and in my case it was definitely way too long. On a startup check I met a young team of students who had an idea, were really exited and even had a complete team with two or more business guys, two developers and even a designer. Their aim was to start in two years - my advice was to have something live in a maximum of three month and I meant it. And even three month is way too long, because...

You do not even know if it's worth it

Every single line of code you type is time you spend without knowing if someone will use your product and this is the reason why it is crucial to me to get something out very, very fast. If you have something that people can actually use, you can get real feedback, whether by what user say or even more important by measuring how and if a user really uses your product. The concept to build something fast and measure in order to learn about your idea itself has become really popular and named 'Lean Startup'. There is also a book by Eric Ries you might want to read. In conclusion, we want to build something very fast and so nice this sounds, the hard part is how?

How to build a product fast

Let's make the task even a little bit harder. The product you want to launch fast must not be crappy, it has to be great, too!

The solution to this is fairly simple: Build less!

You have a good chance to build something that is good and build fast in order to learn how customers interact with your product if you take as much out of your product as possible. It only has to prove the most basic assumption of your idea, like: 'People want to save documents in the cloud'. And there is another thing that gets you to your goal...

Choose the right weapons

There are a lot of ways to develop a product out there, but the best news is that there is a new type of web development frameworks that really changes the way web development works. The most prominent frameworks are Meteor and Derby.

What is so new?

There are several things that are different but I do not want to go into technical details too much. The most important aspect is that this frameworks are based on Node.js. Node.js makes it possible that you can use JavaScript as the server-side language and this is really awesome. The webbrowser and the server are speaking the same language and those frameworks take advantage of this. You can use the same code on the server and on the client and that means you save time. And you remember, saving time is the most important part. Coding does not teach you if your idea works, a prototype helps much more!

Also the client and the server are much more integrated and that makes it much easier and faster to create web-based applications. Everything on the client is rendered by the JavaScript on the client and the server sends only data, but no full-blown html. This enables a so-called reactive UI. This means the user interface changes automatically if data changes and that saves time again. Another benefit is that you get real time capabilities for free... It is literally very, very easy and fast to build a realtime web application.

In conclusion you get speed and a very great feeling application. Exactly what you need to create a MVP and test your startup idea.

Why I chose Meteor

As I mentioned before, Meteor is not the only approach but I believe the most promising and the most reliable out there right now. Meteor was a participant project of the Y Combinator in 2011 where startups like Dropbox started. You may have heard that the Meteor team got a $11.2 Mio. funding but even more interesting is who invested. Andreessen Horowitz a $2.5 billion venture capital fund and well known people like Dustin Moskovitz (Co-Founder of Facebook and Asana), Alexis Ohanian (Co-Founder Reddit) and more. So it is save to say that Meteor is no hobby project and you get this if you are using Meteor right away.

There are also the first funded startups in the U.S. who are relying on Meteor like the well funded startup, which is also a Y Combinator project. There are more really great examples of Meteor apps:

The last but for me the best indicator pro Meteor is the great community full of people really excited about Meteor. With over 11.000 stars and more than 1.500 forks on github it is one of 30 most popular repositories and growing. Also to mention, that JavaScript is by far the most used programming language (Stats here).


I have been working full time with Meteor since version 0.5 and I am absolutely thrilled how fast you can reach your goals and this is why I have specialized in Meteor development and I am convinced, that there is a great future for Meteor and that it is the perfect fit for fast but great MVP's.

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