Posts by Karl L. Hughes

How Packback is Making Used Textbook Prices more Open for Everyone

Like a lot of startups, we rely heavily on open source software at Packback, and while it’s fun to be able to spin up a project quickly with Laravel or Angular, we’ve long been looking for ways to give back to the open source community. This summer, we’ve released a  few small open source projects, but the one I’m […]

Security Tips for Engineers at Early Stage Startups

It’s rare for early stage startups to make security a high priority. You don’t hear two first-time founders bouncing ideas off each other that include a plan for mitigating phishing attacks on their early employees. 1. Someone needs to own security The first problem with security at a startup is that someone needs to really own it. That […]

Using Feed43 and Feedly to Subscribe to YouTube Searches

YouTube recently shut down their v2 API and along with it, RSS feeds for searches. They now want you to use their v3 API, which is fine…if you want to spend a bunch of time building a full-blown application just to grab the latest search results on YouTube. Needless to say, I didn’t really want […]

Writing a Slackbot to Help our Business Access Data at Packback

Slack is a messaging tool that’s quickly become ubiquitous in large and small companies alike. It’s basically like a walled off version of AOL Instant Messenger (you guys remember that from the early 00’s right?) for your company’s internal communication. They have apps for iOS and Android, desktop clients, and a web interface, making Slack super […]


This week I moved out of the tiny one-room place I’ve lived at since I moved to Chicago in 2012. The little studio in Uptown, Chicago was one of the few places I could afford when I came here right after college, and when I moved in I had just four bags of clothing and miscellaneous cooking supplies to my […]

Know Your Competition When Hiring

I was talking to a technology recruiter yesterday and he gave me a couple off the cuff statistics that weren’t particularly shocking, but were telling of the state of hiring right now: There are roughly 4 open jobs for every developer in the city of Chicago Developers stay an average of less than 3 years at […]

The Many Roles of a Startup CTO

“Chief Technical Officer” sounds like a glamorous title. It’s right up there with “Chief Executive Officer” and “Chief Financial Officer” in the pecking order of a company’s leadership, and at big organizations, it’s quite an honor to hold. At an early stage startup, I’d argue, the distinction is slightly less exciting. While I don’t hold the job […]

Creating a Tech Startup without a Developer: the Lean Way

There’s a perception out there that creating an awesome tech startup is about nothing more than making a product that by its awesome and paradigm-shifting nature will magically attract customers. For example, consider the following hypothetical, but reality-based conversation I heard recently: Would Be Founder: “I want to make an app that suggests outfits for you based on […]