Mick Hagen

Founder of Zinch (acq. by Chegg). Now building Undrip.

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For the Single Founder Who Can’t Code

This post originally appeared on TechCrunch as a guest post.

Last summer when I started working on Undrip, I was in a tough spot. I grew up doing web and graphic design so I was a pretty good front-end developer and designer. But I knew nothing about back-end web development – loops, branches dictionaries or functions were all foreign concepts to me. I was a single founder who couldn’t code.

Against the Odds

Every week I get emails from entrepreneurs seeking my advice asking how I did it before, and how I’m doing it now. They find themselves in similar situations in that they’re looking to build a tech startup with little to no technical skills. They’re frustrated by their inability to make forward progress and they usually either give up and fail, or outsource if they have some extra cash (which usually leads to failure).

If you’re a single founder who can’t code, your chances for...

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Staying the Underdog

At the end of last summer, my first startup was acquired by Chegg. We had around 70 employees at the time and revenue growth was strong. Our vision was to create a global brand in education and we were well on our way in doing that. Chegg gave us an offer we couldn’t refuse so we took it. That exit was a huge success for everyone involved and I’m honored to have been part of it since starting it out of my Princeton dorm room in 2006.

Because of that successful journey, I’m often invited to speak at universities, join panels at events, or judge business plan competitions. I get phone calls, emails and other requests from young entrepreneurs seeking advice. Some would argue that I’ve “made it.”


That feeling is a death kiss no matter who you are – but especially if you’re a successful entrepreneur chasing a new startup dream. It’s a dangerous feeling – complacency isn’t easy to wake...

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How I Measure Success

Some judge success by fortune or fame. Others judge it on the quality of relationships (friends, coworkers, family) or the positive impact one might be making in society. Success can mean different things to different people.

I’m not here to debate what success is. But let me tell you what success feels like.

Every morning feels like Christmas morning to me. I wake up bouncing off walls and ecstatic to unwrap the gift of the day ahead. I’m oozing with passion. I enter the KobeSystem. I’m a hungry savage ready to be unleashed into the wild.

16 hours later…

I hop into bed. I spend a few moments reflecting on the day – the challenges, the triumphs, the lessons learned. Then I start to look ahead. The heart starts to race. It feels like Christmas Eve. I can’t wait to open the gifts of tomorrow. I wish I could just instantly be starting the next day. My mind is like a bag of popcorn in...

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