- Generally, the best ideas are ones that solve a pain you have personally- Make sure you understand who your target market is before you begin- Is the idea an aspirin or a vitamin?- Are you disrupting an existing market? Creating a new market? A niche product? Know where you fit in the ecosystem- Make sure the idea is BIG (if you want to raise VC) For us, Eugene and I started talking about Bizyhood in 2011. We had worked together at a previous company and were commiserating about the lack of reliable ways for people to gauge the effectiveness and quality of small and local businesses. I had an experience with a contractor that was very poor and wanted to share that experience with others to prevent them from suffering the same fate. Eugene was frustrated with existing rating sites - none of which spoke to his particular sensibilities when it came to looking for the right restaurant or contractor.
- If you are raising outside capital, this will be the most important thing- You should have a partner (don't argue with me - sole founders have it the hardest. 3 founders is the next hardest. 2 founders is best)- Your partner needs to have PASSION and CULTURE fit. Without this, you will fail- If you are a tech guy, find somebody with great business acumen and connections in the market you are going after. If you are a business guy, find a tech guy who is multi-faceted and not a lone ranger (the 2nd talk tonight will focus on this area)- You should have some advantage in the domain that makes you special
- Can you build a company on the side? Yes, but it's incredibly hard?- Should you do consulting to support yourself while you build your company? Probably not- There is not enough time in the day to put into a startup. So anything you do other than your startup is a massive distraction and slows you down- Learn to say NO
- Not CUSTOMERS.... this is getting out of the building and asking hard questions before you spend a lot of time and money building something- Validate your ideas - it's easier/cheaper/better to do this early on than build something in a vacuum- Learn how to ask questions where you get the "right" responses, not the responses you want - e.g. ask without signaling answers- Read: Steve Blank, 4 Steps.... Interviewing Users: How to Uncover Compelling Insights (Steve Portigal)
- You need this before you want to go raise outside funding- It is all about the numbers- There is no hiding/hype around this - it's blocking/tackling.- You will likely go through 5-10 iterations of your product, and end up someplace different than where you started!- It will likely take much longer than you think (double or triple the time)
- Self and/or Customer Funding is the BEST type- Very few VC backed companies succeed (so in other words, most of us are big-time gamblers)- Ask for advice when you need money, ask for money when you need advice- Different type of investors - none of them are in it for YOU. They are in it for themselves (discuss angels vs. traditional VC's)- Crowdfunding is a game changer (AngelList, Kickstarter/Indiegogo, StartupValley)
- This permeates all the steps - you need to build a culture from Day 1 that stands for you values and don't waver- Find like-minded people that share your passion and can carry out your vision and agrees with your basic principals on how to run the company. Otherwise, no matter how good they are at their job, they are toxic to our company- LOTS of communication.... that solves a lot of ills
- This is a marathon, not a sprint- Keep yourself in good mental and physical shape- Family first- Vacation - do it! No matter what. And not just stay at home vacations.
PRACTICES….. I THINK!