Blabberings on technology, the web, mobile world, India, books, events, communities and everything else (Chautauqua: An old-time series of popular talks intended to edify and entertain, improve the mind and bring culture and enlightenment to the ears and thoughts of the participants)

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Just some cliched observations from another entrepreneur

I've just come back from an extended break from LinknSurf and the Web 2.0 world - while it wasn't exactly a sabbatical, it did help me relax a little, focus on other things and think of some new things for LinknSurf. Besides LinknSurf, I also had some time to reflect on the startup scene in general and what I had learnt from my startup besides the obvious.

If you're in an emerging area in a consumer (not enterprise) market with almost no precedents, here are a couple of things that no one ever told you about a startup (or at least no one told me. And if someone did, I forgot!!!):

  • There are no discrete mistakes. Things happen in a continuum and it's HARD to isolate single things and deal with them
  • Actually, there are NO mistakes. The ones you've identified are basically conjectures. You THINK that that is where you went wrong and there will seldom be any way to verify it but your instinct
  • Startups operate in a series of experiments. With each little experiment, from the way the product looks to how you spread the word, you probably learn more of WHAT NOT TO DO in the next experiment than WHAT TO DO
  • The day you figure out WHAT TO DO, take a deep breath and savor the moment. The feeling won't last very long! But go ahead and DO IT! Not doing is the worst thing you can do.
  • The gap between identifying 'what is needed' and actually providing for it is really really small. It's so small that none of your big ideas are going to squeeze through it. Try the smaller ones first
  • All the experienced people you talk to offer opinions that are no different than yours unless you drive them to the details. It's the details that matter - that's where the devil lies. And then again, you realize that no one gives a damn about that neat little detail you implemented till it shows up unexpectedly one day and then you won't be able to wipe the grin off your face for at least that day
  • The most enriching experience is to see most of your ideas and opinions being challenged, ground to dust and thrown away and see new ones emerge out of that dust which MAY work. Like someone said, convicition is a luxury for those on the sidelines. You're on the frontlines - so stop fighting FOR your ideas, start fighting WITH them
  • MONEY MATTERS. Yeah, everyone told you that, but no one told you HOW MUCH it matters
  • Trust me, no one knows your product and market better than you. However, DOES IT MATTER? Passionate users are created when the USER USES THE PRODUCT BETTER THAN YOU
  • Sometimes, things work out for no reason at all, just the way they don't sometimes

Well, I guess that's a pretty cliched list. Any one else have any other observations or opinions? More on LinknSurf and Wirkle in my next post.


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