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codementor1Imagine, for a second, that you’re a developer working hard on a big project. But inhibiting progress is that pesky, frustrating Ruby issue that’s nearly impossible to figure out. Or maybe it’s the JavaScript tripping you up again.

There are some options for help. You could ask a friend. Maybe do a Google search. Or find a tutorial on YouTube.

Codementor wants to accelerate that process to save you precious time and hours of stress. The new startup, currently in TechStars Seattle, helps developers solve problems and mentors make money.

Weiting Liu, who had his first startup SocialPicks acquired in 2009, had moved on to build a profitable 50-person company with his brother in the social media marketing space in Taiwan.

But they couldn’t hire fast enough. When development issues came up and none of the employees could fix the problem, it became a pain to try to find help from an expert. 

“Had Codementor existed back then — we’d be happy customers,” Liu said. 

So, naturally, Liu decided to build Codementor with CTO Victor Lam, an active Rails developer that is passionate about mentoring other developers and has been doing so since he was a teenager.

We caught up with Liu for the latest edition of Startup Spotlight to learn more about San Francisco-based Codementor.

Codementor CEO Weiting Liu and CTO Victor Lam.

Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: Codementor provides real-time help for developers from expert mentors via screen sharing, video and chat.

Inspiration hit us when … I grew our last company to 50 people with my brother in Taiwan in two years, and we couldn’t hire fast enough. Often times situation arose outside of our team’s expertise, and we’d find ourselves in desperate needs of expert help. Had Codementor existed back then — we’d be happy customers.

We’ve also had a few friends around us who are geographically challenged developers that don’t have the luxury of having expert developers as their colleagues.

Codementor was started to solve our own problems.

VC, Angel or Bootstrap: Mostly angels — we love working with experienced entrepreneurs who’ve been there and done that.

Our ‘secret sauce’ is: Building a successful marketplace takes time, but we believe we’re in good shape as we’ve had personal experiences from both the supply and demand sides.

Codementor has different mentors with expertise in a variety of development tools.
Codementor has different mentors with expertise in a variety of development tools.

The smartest move we’ve made so far: Coming to Seattle, being in TechStars, listening to Andy Sack’s advice and talking to users!

The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: Not hiring fast enough. Sleep has since become an optional activity…

Would you rather have Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: All of them are our heroes, but since we’re in Seattle working right by the Amazon campus Mr. Bezos is the obvious choice. Laser-focused intensity of building tremendous customer experiences at scale.

Our world domination strategy starts when: Users told us how happy they were when they got their issues solved with mentors on our site.

Rivals should fear us because: We’re relentless in pursuing our goal of building something people want.

codementor-logo-2We are truly unique because: We have the international perspective and we understand the needs of developers not living in tech centers like the Bay Area or Seattle.

The biggest hurdle we’ve overcome is: Building a marketplace takes time and lots of hustle.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: Listen to users, but also more importantly, understand who your users are. It’ll help you figure out what’s signal and what’s noise.

AfterPartyLogo2013200Editor’s note: This month, GeekWire will be featuring the 11 startups participating in TechStars Seattle. This marks the fifth of those profiles. Make sure to check out TechStars Demo Day on Oct. 24th, and GeekWire Startup Day on Oct. 25th, both part of Seattle Startup Week. You will also get a chance to meet the Codementor team at the Demo Day after party, a fantastic opportunity to hang out with hundreds of Seattle entrepreneurs, investors and members of the Seattle startup ecosystem.

Past TechStars Seattle Startup Spotlights:

Vetted matches big companies with independent consultants

Perfect helps you edit, share videos filmed with Google Glass

Shippable helps developers speed up software deployment

Designlab teaches you web design skills with interactive lessons, in-browser tools

Ex-Amazonians helping teachers create and sell online courses with Everpath

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