Why / How you should start a company when you have a full-time job<br />Todd Garland<br />Founder, BuySellAds.com<br />
My Story (real quick)<br />Started working on the idea for BuySellAds in March 2007 while freelancing to pay the bills.<br...
Startup Motivations (the WHY)<br />Financial Freedom<br />Creative Freedom<br />(good) Ego & Pride<br />
WHY: Financial Freedom<br />The Pot of Gold at the end of the rainbow.<br />Great reason to start a company.<br />Your bac...
WHY: Creative Freedom<br />Creative Freedom = going from crazy idea to a real living product, without the red tape.<br />F...
WHY: (good) Ego & Pride<br />Success becomes more valuable than cash<br />Pride is confidence, and being confident will he...
Getting Started (the HOW)<br />Finding the idea<br />Building your app<br />Launch<br />Support<br />Competition<br />Ethi...
HOW: Finding the idea<br />Don’t be desperate, but be alert – just like dating, desperation usually doesn’t work.<br />Bus...
HOW: Finding the idea (cont…)<br />A practical business that people already understand is helpful (i.e. buying/selling ads...
HOW: Building Your App<br />I built the 1st version of BSA and the code wasn’t pretty, but it worked.<br />1st proprietary...
HOW: Building Your App<br />Manual processes are OK:<br />1st version of BSA, I was resizing screenshots in Photoshop like...
HOW: Launch<br />Don’t be trigger shy (I was).<br />Not launching is more embarrassing than launching.<br />Iterate as muc...
HOW: Support<br />If you’re a jerk or don’t care much about your users, it will be obvious.<br />Become obsessed with supp...
HOW: Competition<br />Simple is harder than it sounds.  Simplicity can be a competitive advantage.<br />Know thy competito...
HOW: Ethics<br />Wouldn’t advise starting a competing company, too many legal & ethical issues<br />Must be up-front with ...
HOW: Time<br />You don’t need much more than 6 hours of sleep each night.  9 – 5 is 8 hours, so that leaves 4 hours a day ...
HOW: Money<br />Be smart with your equity.  Equity is not cheap.<br />Funding is necessary for some, but definitely not al...
In Conclusion<br />“Shit or get off the pot”<br />While listening to this, you were wasting valuable time that could have ...
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Why / How you should start a company when you have a full-time job

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Why / How you should start a company when you have a full-time job

  1. 1. Why / How you should start a company when you have a full-time job<br />Todd Garland<br />Founder, BuySellAds.com<br />
  2. 2. My Story (real quick)<br />Started working on the idea for BuySellAds in March 2007 while freelancing to pay the bills.<br />Was scratching my own itch, didn’t set out to “build a company”.<br />Came across a post on Craigslist for a “Devigner” (designer/developer) by Dharmesh Shah of HubSpot, where I worked for ~ 2 years.<br />Seeing HubSpot go from 5 – 50 people in 1 year inspired me to do BSA.<br />“Finished” the 1st version around July 2007.<br />BSA was put on hold nearly 6 months until I acquired the domain name for $2,160 in January 2008.<br />Spent the next few weekends putting final touches on the app, and launched late-February 2008.<br />Spent the next 11 months working on BSA by morning/night/weekend and HubSpot by day before leaving HubSpot to do BSA full-time January 1st 2009.<br />
  3. 3. Startup Motivations (the WHY)<br />Financial Freedom<br />Creative Freedom<br />(good) Ego & Pride<br />
  4. 4. WHY: Financial Freedom<br />The Pot of Gold at the end of the rainbow.<br />Great reason to start a company.<br />Your back up against the wall, sink or swim.<br />Different stages to financial freedom:<br />Making cool supplemental income<br />Making enough to quit your full-time job<br />Making enough to hire people & grow your company<br />Making enough to “cashout” at the end of each year<br />Making enough to start other investments<br />Making enough to “retire”, otherwise known as “an event” (chances are, you’ll never actually retire)<br />
  5. 5. WHY: Creative Freedom<br />Creative Freedom = going from crazy idea to a real living product, without the red tape.<br />Full-time job = working on someone else's idea.<br />Greater emotional attachment to YOUR users experience – treat them like family, they help put food on your table.<br />“Pivots” can be more dramatic since they will be less expensive.<br />
  6. 6. WHY: (good) Ego & Pride<br />Success becomes more valuable than cash<br />Pride is confidence, and being confident will help you win<br />You will never fall asleep while at work again<br />Your mind will never be more active<br />
  7. 7. Getting Started (the HOW)<br />Finding the idea<br />Building your app<br />Launch<br />Support<br />Competition<br />Ethics<br />Time<br />Money<br />
  8. 8. HOW: Finding the idea<br />Don’t be desperate, but be alert – just like dating, desperation usually doesn’t work.<br />Business model – if you’re not sure how it’s going to make money, move on.<br />The “homerun” – you’re not looking for a homerun, you’re looking for a small win. Remember, this is probably your first startup/company.<br />
  9. 9. HOW: Finding the idea (cont…)<br />A practical business that people already understand is helpful (i.e. buying/selling ads on websites).<br />Focus on the zero-touch. We don’t “touch” people at BSA until they come through support. We touch only ~ 35% of our users each month.<br />You don’t have to be an inventor, you can be a re-inventor. Every day, software gets cheaper and faster to build.<br />
  10. 10. HOW: Building Your App<br />I built the 1st version of BSA and the code wasn’t pretty, but it worked.<br />1st proprietary JavaScript I ever wrote was the BSA ad code. Still used in its original form on some sites today.<br />Leverage existing frameworks (Ruby, CodeIgniter, etc.)<br />Focus on the user experience / UI, not the code.<br />
  11. 11. HOW: Building Your App<br />Manual processes are OK:<br />1st version of BSA, I was resizing screenshots in Photoshop like crazy as sites were submitted.<br />No cancellation feature, had to ask via support. No “cashout’ feature, had to ask via support.<br />If you’re not a programmers, it’s OK, build it as best you can, and once your ideas are into the workflow, pass off to a real programmer.<br />
  12. 12. HOW: Launch<br />Don’t be trigger shy (I was).<br />Not launching is more embarrassing than launching.<br />Iterate as much as necessary. We still release ~ once per week at BSA, sometimes more. However, at beginning, we would go weeks without a release.<br />Don’t plan too far in advance & don’t promise new features.<br />
  13. 13. HOW: Support<br />If you’re a jerk or don’t care much about your users, it will be obvious.<br />Become obsessed with support queue = 0<br />Always be honest. Some users will be very aggressive, but honesty, accuracy, and fairness will will the toughest of customers.<br />Email is fine for support, you don’t need anything fancier than that at first.<br />
  14. 14. HOW: Competition<br />Simple is harder than it sounds. Simplicity can be a competitive advantage.<br />Know thy competitor, but ignore thy competitor as much as possible.<br />The more you focus on them, the quicker you will lose.<br />When your users leave for the competition, work really hard to save them and/or understand why they are leaving.<br />Clone Wars = you’re doing something right.<br />
  15. 15. HOW: Ethics<br />Wouldn’t advise starting a competing company, too many legal & ethical issues<br />Must be up-front with your current employer<br />State-specific laws might make this tough, and make sure you know what’s in your employment contract.<br />Re-write software once you leave employer (we did this, just for good measure).<br />
  16. 16. HOW: Time<br />You don’t need much more than 6 hours of sleep each night. 9 – 5 is 8 hours, so that leaves 4 hours a day to work on your startup, 4 hours for family time, and 2 hours for stuff like showering and eating.<br />You are never actually ON vacation. Even while on your Honeymoon, your business will need attention.<br />
  17. 17. HOW: Money<br />Be smart with your equity. Equity is not cheap.<br />Funding is necessary for some, but definitely not all. Which way you go depends on the type of business you’re looking to build.<br />Small wins ($1mm - $35mm) are a lot sexier without investors.<br />
  18. 18. In Conclusion<br />“Shit or get off the pot”<br />While listening to this, you were wasting valuable time that could have been spent working on your company<br />Image used under Creative Commons from http://www.flickr.com/photos/thelifeofbryan/<br />

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