I just got done watching a video of Startup Success 2006. It’s a fascinating panel of startups, both new ( Jajah ) and old ( LinkedIn ) and everywhere in between, moderated by none other than Guy Kawasaki. I can’t recommend watching the video enough. What was surprising was how much of what the founders said in the panel echoed what is described in “The Big Moo” (or maybe not so surprising since Guy was an author included in “The Big Moo“). Here are the eight things that I pulled away from the panel, along with, where applicable, a reference to where it was found in “The Big Moo“:
1. “We want our service to be expense-able, not approvable” – This hit me like a bolt of lightening. It makes perfect sense for reducing the acquisition cost of bringing customers on. I have been part of many, many companies where this wasn’t the case, and you end up in “budget approval hell”.
2. “Entrepreneurs & founders of a startup need to be eternally optimistic” – Seems like a no brainer, but if you’re not optimistic to the point of being delusional, how are you going to convince other people your product is worth something?
3. “Web 2.0 is made up of 3 A’s: AJAX, AdWords, and Arrogance” – Ha.
4. “There are plenty of opportunities to solve problems for the masses, without the need for the latest and greatest technologies” – I have written about this many, many, many (#12) times, but it’s still true. Technology doesn’t matter as much as providing a stable, easy to use solution to a common problem.
5. “If you’re not embarressed by version 1.0 of your product, you’ve released too late.” – This is the key to succeeding, IMHO. Something doesn’t have to be full featured, and perfect (#8) for it to be useful. As long as it’s stable, get it out the door and in people’s hands and start generating feedback. Sure you may take lumps, but in the end it’s worth it. This is especially tough for engineers to understand because they’re used to being the smartest guys in most rooms. So you need to swallow some pride.
6. “Value speed and feedback over secrecy” – Contrary to popular belief, a) it takes more than just an idea (#13) to succeed. In fact, if you’re the only person doing something, you’re not solving a common problem and b) people will not run off a steal your idea. Open up and get feedback. Pitch your idea to everyone , and have them shoot it down. If you’re not being berated at some point, by someone, you’re playing it too safe.
7. “Shut up and listen” – Your product is what customers think it is (#14).
8. “Be a trendspotter, not a trendsetter” – You don’t always have to be in the in the “innovators” segment of people. You can easily succeed by being in the “early adopters” segment. Plus, you’ll have an easier time finding ideas that actually have legs.
Watch the video and absorb.