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The Reality of Breaking Into Startups

Originially published on LinkedIn Pulse by Ruben Harris. This blog tells the story of how Ruben Harris, Timur Meyster and myself left our corporate jobs and embarked on a path to Break Into Startups. Hope you enjoy!

The First Product You Build Is Yourself

From the Social Network to Silicon Valley, the media frenzy surrounding the nature of startups has taken on an idealized life of its own. What many people don’t realize is, proving that you have what it takes to work as a Software Engineer without a Computer Science degree is challenging. Friendship, relationships, overcoming fear, mental health, fitness, reflection, and execution are all essential during this process.

You may have already heard the story about my journey up to this point. What you don’t know is that a big part of what kept me afloat during that entire experience was my bond with the Die Hard twins, Artur and Timur Meyster, and a Quarterback turned hacker named Mike.
This is the ongoing true story and lesson of our journey upward.

Memories at the Everest House

Low Pressure

"In startups, everything starts out cold."

A cold pitch, a cold e­mail, and even the cold brew

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Building an Asteroid Video Game with D3.js

D3 Charts

It’s hard to believe that Week 2 at Hack Reactor is already finished! I constantly go between feelings like I’ve been here for several months or several days, but definitely not 2 weeks. Keeping track of what day of the week it is has also proven to be a challenge. For example, yesterday I got to my local gym at 6 am only to realize that it doesn’t open on Saturdays until 8 am!

On a different note, the material at Hack Reactor has gotten progressively more interesting. This week we built a Dance Party game in jQuery using various CSS animations, explored how to design an algorithm to the classic N-Queens problem, and got introduced to the awesome data visualization libary D3.js.

What is D3.js?

D3 is a popular JavaScript library that stands for Data Driven Documents that allows manipulating DOM tree nodes (elements on a web page) using data. Prior to technology like D3, most data was visualized using bar charts, line graphs and pie charts. These tools date back to the late seventeenth hundreds. D3’s biggest appeal is that it allows to visualize large and complex data sets in the browser.

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Part I - Complexity Analysis of Algorithms and Data Structures

Rubics Cube


After much anticipation, I just completed Week 1 of Hack Reactor. The last 6 days have been filled with lots of introductions, lectures, pair programming, and sprints. Admittedly, coming into this experience I had my doubts about how much I could learn in 3 months; however, after just six days of being surrounded by the incredible instructors and teaching staff, I can safely say that the amount I learned in the last 6 days would have amounted to several months of learning on my own.

One thing that drew me to Hack Reactor was its emphasis on software engineering fundamentals. Although the majority of coding at HR is done in JavaScript, the language itself is merely a gateway to engage with deeper computer science concepts. To no surprise, the overarching theme of Week 1 has been learning about the fundamental concept of software engineering - the analysis of algorithms and data structures.

What is an Algorithm?

Definition: “Algorithm – is a set of steps to accomplish a task”

An algorithm can be thought of as a recipe or a step-by-step set of operations for solving a problem. You may have an algorithm for making a sandwich, driving from home to

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Part II - Determining Complexity of Algorithms

Time Complexity In Part I, we discussed the big-O notation and how to estimate the running time of a program. In this post, I’m going to apply time complexity analysis to various data structures. Understanding algorithmic complexity is crucial for software engineering because it helps identify areas in the program that can be optimized.

There are several types of complexities, which can be represented using the big-O notation, namely constant, linear, logarithmic, quadratic and exponential time.

Constant Time

Constant Time Complexity Constant time implies that the number of operations the program needs to perform to accomplish a task is independent of the input size. Constant time operations are ‘order of 1’ or O(1). Examples of constant time are looking up a value in an array, finding the size of an array, or appending values to an array. As the input size grows larger, the time it takes to perform these operations remains constant.

Linear Time

Linear Time Complexity Linear time indicates that run time of the function is directly proportional to the input size. In our phone book example in Part 1, if we examine every single name in the phone book until we found the one we were looking for, it would be considered as

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Part I: What’s a Coding Bootcamp? App Academy vs. Hack Reactor

App Academy vs Hack Reactor

Update (12/6/2016) - After 2 years of working in software engineering, I decided to start a podcast called Breaking Into Startups where we interview top bootcamp founder and alumni who broke into software engineering. Check it out!

Today is a very SPECIAL day. After months of anticipation, my twin brother Timur, left Atlanta to move to California to attend App Academy, one of the top coding bootcamps in San Francisco. Over last year, we have spent most of our free time learning how to code in two different programming languages, Ruby and JavaScript. I plan to cover the topic of various languages in a future post, but for now I want to keep the focus limited to how we came to a decision to attend App Academy and Hack Reactor.

What is a Coding Bootcamp?

Before I dive into the similarities and differences between various bootcamps, I want to explain what a coding bootcamp is. In recent years, there has been a growing demand for web and mobile developers due to the growing number of smart phone users who are consuming an astonishing amount of content right from their devices. Because every year or so,

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Hack Reactor Interview Process and Prep Tips

Hack Reactor Interview Process

Update (12/6/2016) - After 2 years of working in software engineering, I decided to start a podcast called Breaking Into Startups where we interview top bootcamp founder and alumni who broke into software engineering. Check it out!

My Hack Reactor Interview Process

After weeks of researching coding bootcamps, I was convinced that I wanted to attend Hack Reactor except for a “minor” problem – the admission challenge. From everything I gathered to that point, the technical interview would consist of a 45-minute session over Skype where I would be asked to solve a series of coding challenges using my knowledge of JavaScript. For those less familiar with programming, an example of a coding problem would be something like building a function that checks to see if a number is prime. For starters, you have to know enough basic math to know what constitutes a prime number. Secondly, you have to quickly come up with the rules to determine if the number is prime. Lastly, you have to apply your knowledge of JavaScript to build these conditions into a function. If this doesn’t sound scary to you yet, remember that you have to do it in

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My Story - Climbing the Wrong Hill


"Programming? You’re going to leave a 6-figure job to do what?"

This is what my mom told me after I told her my plans to quit my job as an investment banker in order to pursue my dream of working with start-ups. After close to a year of researching the world of start-ups and spending countless weekends and late nights teaching myself how to code, I’m proud to say that I got accepted to Hack Reactor, a 12-week coding bootcamp in San Francisco, CA.

Why Programming?

Since I can remember, I’ve always been curious about websites, and more importantly, e-commerce. During my sophomore year in college, my roommate and I built a successful online art gallery. By optimizing our website for search engines, we were able to rank at the top of Google, which resulted in thousands of dollars in art sales with customers from all over the world. The following semester, I was eager to take the Intro to Computer Science class, hoping that it would ignite my entrepreneurial spark. However, after spending 4 months studying computer science theory from a professor who didn’t seem to know what a text editor was, I came to

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"Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… The ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do."

Steve Jobs, 1955-2011