Node.js Code Review - The BEST Money Spent in our First 6 Months

Table of Contents

Alyssa Ravasio
Alyssa, AirPair Customer, getting Node.js Code Review help

In this AirPair, Mike helps Alyssa code review her web scraper.

In a short half-year span, Alyssa Ravasio went from not knowing how to program, to founding and coding her own startup HipCamp. Motivated to make a difference, she graduated from Dev Bootcamp, a 12 week Ruby crash course and followed on with Node.js code review and mentoring help from AirPair to launch her first commercial website. Alyssa has always been an passionate camper, even before building, a web-based campsite discovery platform. She also found her new passion in coding!

Alyssa graduated from UCLA with a BSc in Digital Democracy & Digital Economy. She worked for Revel System, a leading iPad POS, and was a recipient of the GitHub/Femgineer Lean Product Development Scholarship.

##Bootcamper Student Turned Startup Founder & Bootstrapper Airpair Node.js Code Reviewer Customer Alyssa Ravasio

I chose to attend Dev Bootcamp because I wanted to start a web company and I knew that a basic knowledge of code would be a huge advantage. I didn't expect to love coding so much, but to my surprise, I discovered it is a true passion. For me, coding is a practice - a skill I can continually improve for my entire life, with no defined endpoint.

Upon graduating, I knew what I wanted to build - Hipcamp, a better way to discover and book campsites. The inspiration had come the previous New Year’s Day. It all started with a very simple question: where can I camp by the ocean, not too far from San Francisco, on December 31st? Finding an answer to this question proved far more difficult than I’d ever imagined.

##Embarking on The Software Development Journey

With so many California State Parks threatening to close for lack of funding, the dots suddenly connected for me on January 1, 2013. If I could make it easier to find a campsite, then more people would get out there. This would mean more revenue for state parks and more people outside, enjoying the numerous health and mental benefits while cultivating a stronger commitment to conservation and the environment.

As an entrepreneur, developer, and lifelong camper there was no doubt that building was what I needed to do next. But it was a huge shift to go from spending my days surrounded by the loving, supportive staff of Dec Bootcamp, ready to answer any question at the drop of a post-it (literally, all we had to do was affix a post-it to our screen and a teacher would come help us) - to my kitchen, all by myself, facing an infuriatingly obtuse error message blaring across my terminal.

##Instant Access to Node.js Code Reviewers and Mentors The difficulty of this transition was compounded by my ambitious decision to build in Node.js, even though all I had learned at Dev Bootcamp was Ruby. I chose Node.js because I love Javascript and wasn’t fond of all the rules in Rails. My amazing coding mentor, Liz Howard, offered me office space and help when I needed it. There were dark moments of despair she pulled me through, and for that I will always be grateful.

But Liz is an extremely in demand lady, and I often found myself alone and stuck. It was so frustrating to be at a dead standstill at the exact moment when I need to be moving quickly. Building a startup is all about validating your assumptions, which often requires putting product in front of customers, and I was having a hard time shipping. At times I felt like giving up, maybe taking a job so I could focus on improving my coding before venturing out on my own.

That's where AirPair came in, BIG TIME. Because I was bootstrapping Hipcamp from my personal savings, it was an incredibly difficult decision to fork over the money for that first Airpair session - but it honestly ended up being the best money I spent in those early, precarious months of Hipcamp’s birth.

##Building a Startup with Node.js Whenever I encountered a problem that left me truly stuck, I would turn to AirPair. They would connect me with a highly-qualified expert on the exact topic I was struggling with, often within the same day. Not only would these AirPair sessions solve my problem, but they would also teach me invaluable strategies that could applied to future situations and generated immense positive momentum.

In one session, I learned how to tactically manage API call quotas by channeling all API calls through a single function with a timeout to avoiding hitting a troublesome API rate limit. This problem had plagued me for weeks, and with a single hour session, I suddenly had an elegant, scalable solution.

##Learn with a Node.js Code Reviewer: Phantom.js Web Scraping In another session, I learned how to use Phantom.js to complete and submit a webform from someone who had been using this technology since its inception. Both these lessons required leaps of cognition that I could not have acquired through StackOverflow queries. They could only be accomplished by explaining my specific circumstances and priorities to an expert who was willing to lend me her brain and years of hard-earned knowledge for an hour or two.

Hipcamp Alyssa Ravasio working with Node.js Code Reviewer

AirPair has been, and will continue to be, an important tactic in Hipcamp's technology strategy. It may seem counterintuitive for a startup to spend money on technical expertise when hypothetically, one of the founders could likely get to the same place after hours of banging their head against the wall. But in reality, it is time - not money - that is a startup’s most precious resource. AirPair provides an affordable way to leverage one to maximize the other. It is a huge strategic advantage.

One tip - don't be afraid to set your budget on the lower side if you're a bootstrapping startup! Just explain why the world needs your idea and hopefully an expert will agree to help you for passion, not profit.

And if you want to discover the best camping in Northern California, check out Hipcamp!