startups


Great post at http://onstartups.com/tabid/3339/bid/11539/Startup-Advice-In-Exactly-Three-Words-StartupTriplets.aspx

Startup Triplets:  Startup Advice In Exactly Three Words

1.  Watch your cash. 
2.  Pick founders carefully. 
3.  Hire generalists early. 
4.  Hire specialists later. 
5. Invest in culture. 
6. Avoid tempting distractions. 
7.  Support customers maniacally. 
8.  Avoid business plans. 
9.  Write a blog. 
10. Never fudge numbers. 
11. Encourage diverse thinking. 
12. Guard your time. 
13.  Defer renting space.
14. Get enough sleep. 
15.  Delay raising capital. 
16.  Persist through downturns. 
17.  Decide with data. 
18.  Improve product daily. 
19. Recognize revenue consistently. 
20. Start charging early. 
21. Reward early adopters. 
22. Sell something today. 
23. Say “NO” often. 
24. Accept imperfect data. 
25.  Recruit with zest. 
26. Nurture your best. 
27.  Treat vendors well. 
28. Believe in yourself. 
29. Respect your competitors. 
30. Try something new. 
31. Build a brand. 
32. Focus, focus, focus. 
33. Iterate more often. 
34. Use your product. 
35. Live your vision. 
36. Encourage rational debate. 
37. Make decisions swiftly. 
38. Face harsh realities. 
39. Don’t break laws. 
40. Protect your health. 
41. Celebrate your successes. 
42. Cancel unnecessary meetings. 
43. Improve emloyee’s resumes. 
44. Beware big bullies. 
45. Share the experience. 
46. Maintain your relationships. 
47. Keep it fun. 

Great talk by KPCB’s John Doerr about company cultures, KPCBs investments, Greentech and career advice.

There are essentially two types of cultures in companies

Mercenaries Missionaries
drive,paranoia passion
opportunistic strategic
sprint marathon
obsess on competition obsess on customers
aristrocacy of founders meritrocracy
financial statements mission statement

A great talk about starting a company: By Mint.com CEO Aaron Patzer

http://vimeo.com/6960507

It is an awesome, hands-on talk about his experiences. He goes through the following three stages and the goals, expenses there in.

 

Phase 1: Garage (<100K)
Business Goal
Expenses
Phase 2: Seed (<$1m)
Business Goal -> Alpha Launch, head count of 5-6 (3-4 engineer, 1 frontend, 1 business)
Expenses
Projecting Revenue
Phase 3: Funded (> $1M)
Business Goal
Expenses
Budgeting & growth model

 

Came across an obituary of Eugene Kleiner while browsing. He is the K in the famous VC KPCB. Eugene Kleiner was a part of the “traitorous eight”, who left their jobs at Shockley Labs and co-founded Fairchild Semiconductors. Eugene played a major role in attracting initial venture into the project. After the success of Fairchild Semiconductors, Eugene turned into a venture capitalist himself. What really inspires me about Eugene is the fact that he played all three parts necessary in a successful technology company, viz. the inventor, the entrepreneur and later on the venture capitalist.

He laid out certain rules for VCs, which are commonly referred to as Kleiner’s laws:

  • Make sure the dog wants to eat the dog food. No matter how ground-breaking a new technology, how large a potential market, make certain customers actually want it.
  • Build one business at a time. Most business plans are overly ambitious. Concentrate on being successful in one endeavor first.
  • Risk up front, out early.
  • The time to take the tarts is when they’re being passed.
  • The problem with most companies is they don’t know what business they’re in.
  • Even turkeys can fly in a high wind. In times of strong economies, even bad companies can look good.
  • It’s easier to get a piece of an existing market than to create a new one.
  • It’s difficult to see the picture when you’re inside the frame.
  • After learning some of the tricks of the trade, some people think they know the trade. This reflected some of Eugene’s own humility; he recognized that many venture capitalists thought they were experts when they had just a bit of knowledge.
  • Venture capitalists will stop at nothing to copy success.
  • Invest in people, not just products. Eugene always respected founding entrepreneurs. He wanted to build companies with them not just with their ideas.

I came across Copyscape over a discussion at work. Its a tool to detect online plagiarism, i.e. if some else is copying your content on the web. That led me to its founder, Gideon Greenspan‘s website. He has some pretty insightful tips for people people planning a startup. He addresses a few common questions:

  • How Do I Find Good Ideas?
  • Where is the Real Money Online?
  • Does my Startup have “Technology”?
  • What’s the Point of Investors?
  • Tips for Killer Websites

Paul Graham’s talk at Startup School 2007. Some notes I jotted down..

The Anatomy of Reluctance (why people hesitate to start a startup)

1) You are too young. Two techniques adults use to judge whether the other person is an adult.
a) Check whether the other person has a “kid’s flake” reflex. When things get hard “I cant do it..can you do it for me”.
b) How does the person respond to challenges by the adult. Kid recognizes adults dominant position or do they rebel and argue when something is imposed upon them

2) Too inexperienced. Gain experience by committing mistakes while “starting a startup”.

3) Not very determined..determination is the single biggest factor to a startups success.

4) Not smart enough..not a problem. Opportunities for everybody.

5) Dont understand business..understanding business is not the hard part. Building a good product is the hard part. What matters is how good you are at building things.

6) No cofounder. Real Problem. No investor who would not prefer to invest in a company with a co founder. Preferably one you know and trust

7) You have no idea. Most investors say “Its not the idea its the team”. Brief recipe for ideas..whats missing in your life. No matter how specific it is to you..its a better source of ideas than some hypothetical need. Steve Wozniak build computer for himself..didnt know whether it would be useful to others.

8 ) No room for more startups : Fallacy. Google buys companies because they are valuable. As long as you are creating valuable things..you are good.

9) Have a family to support. Would not advice you to start a startup.

10) Already have enough money..

11) You have a need for structure. Dont start a startup..probably dont work for one either. In a good startup..no one tells another what to do. Everyone end up doing the right thing at the correct time.

12) Fear of uncertainty. Reasonable way to tackle this..expect the worse (startup going to fail) hope for the best. Atleast will be interesting.

13) You dont realize what you are avoiding. Corporate jobs can be boring. Startups offer you something interesting and of your liking to work on. Motivated to work harder.

14) Parents want you to be a doctor. Parents are conservative on behalf of their kids. Risk is always proportionate to awards. So protecting them from risks keeping them away from awards. Traditional opinion of doctors being rich and prestigious.

15) A job is a default. Need money = get a job. Wasnt true 100 years ago..it was farming. Opinions change with times.

Paul Graham’s talk at Startup School 2005. Some notes I jotted down..

General Perception -> Idea for startup very hard..Million dollar idea.
Not lying around for anyone to discover. Most startups end up nothing
like the initial idea. In the process of building up you come up with
the real idea.

Present question instead of idea. Instead of “how about a
collaborative web based spreadsheet” vs. “is it possible to make a
collaborative web based spreadsheet”. Incrementally implementing your
way towards the final idea.

Be familiar with promising new technologies. Conversation with
friends…right kind of people. Ideas get developed while explaining
them to the right kind of people.

Let your mind wander. Harder fields are a better area of work for
generating ideas…eg. math. Related fields..Comp Sc and Electrical
Engg…importing ideas from related fields. You have to be working on
something..you cant let your mind wander at random. you have to be
working on something and then let your mind wander a “little bit into
randomness”.

Problem –>Denial of problems. People believed that spam cannot be
avoided..except for rule based methods. Even when presented with
solutions ppl believe they wouldnt work. To accept the problem as
intolerable and feeling that it must be possible to solve them.

Make something people want. Think in terms of users..how would it
benefit you..your friends..your cousins etc. Build stuff for yourself.
Look at stuff people use now which are broken. Take a luxury and make
it into a commodity. If ppl are willing to pay a lot for it..it must
be useful to them. Henry Ford. This might involve redefining the
problem. Model T didnot have all the features of luxury cars…but it
solved the problem ppl cared about…getting from place to place. Make
things easier to use. Simplicity takes effort.

Do one thing and do it well.

Some kind of exit strategy. Either get bought or go public. Only then
will you be able to attract talent (with stock options). Look at big
companies and think what they ought to be doing. Make something
multiple acquirers would want. Dont make Microsoft Windows fix. Make
something where there is competition.