I have not written anything since Feb 2012. My time has been quite packed with running Capucina and doing a lot of startup works. I am going to share many lessons that I have learned on this blog. The writing will begin soon again.
Imagine there is a bank which credits your account each morning with $86,400. It carries over no balance from day to day, allows you to keep no cash balance, and every evening cancels whatever part of the amount you had failed to use during the day. What would you do? Draw out every penny, of course? Well, everyone has such a bank. Its name is time. Every morning, it credits you with 86,400 seconds. Every night it writes off, as lost, whatever of this you have failed to invest to good purpose. It carries over no balance. It allows no overdraft. Each day it opens a new account for you. Each night it burns the remains of the day. If you fail to use the day’s deposits, the loss is yours. There is no going back. There is no drawing against the “tomorrow”. You must live in the present on today’s deposits. Invest it so as to get from it the utmost in health, happiness and success. The clock is running. Make the most of today.
This morning I was checking my likes on Facebook, which are mostly topics related to innovation and start up culture. I came across some disappointing articles back to back by big names such as Sean Parker ( the Justin Timberlake guy in the Social Network movie). In a Cnet article, Parker talks about the bubble that is growing in the valley and the consequences of such bubble. One part of the article grabbed my attention however. Parker talks about the team structure to make a successful company and the mismatch of talent in the start up community at the moment. Situations in which an engineer should be doing engineering work and not product management and situations in which talented people who have worked for big names in the valley quit their jobs to start a company.
If you are in to the technology development business, you know that how hard it is to find talented people. And the talent is not all you need, but a combination of talent and personality character that starting a business demands. In some cases it is close to impossible to find the perfect talent for your needs. As a result forming a perfect team to build up a start up idea becomes impossible. So, what does an entrepreneur do? Is he going to give up because all the perfect elements are not there?
My answer is : No, a real entrepreneur starts with what is available. You make a move, you solve one problem a day, make improvement everyday. If you don’t have the best programmer in the world, make the best out of the programmer that you have. If you don’t have the latest Macbook pro, work with the used one that you have. Use whatever that you have access to, to keep the momentum and build up.
I wasn’t a web developer, I have become one, my used Macbook pro has crashed twice now, so I started using my Ubuntu system to keep moving the coding forward. I don’t have the best programmer in the world with me, but I get help from a professional software developer on part time bases to debug my code and solve more complex problems for me. I utilize the expertise of my friends in sales, marketing and business to take care of other aspect of building up my business.
I have to agree with Sean Parker on one topic however. There are many start ups and people out there who got funding and they should have never been funded at first place. People with shallow ideas, people with ideas that are just copied from another business eg, daily deal sites Ughh ! and above all people who don’t have the talent and personality to take care of what it takes to start a business. The sad thing is that these people have been funded and since they are not going to deliver, it will hurt the ecosystem of start up community. Meanwhile, I keep developing my platform that I have been working on for the past couple of months.
I watched this video recently about the reasons that some brands, people and teams are more successful than others. Simon Sinek describes the pattern by 3 circles that he calls it golden circles. Then he describes that how successful brands think and act according to these circles, which is just a codified thinking process and philosophy.
Jeff Bezos is at it again. A while a go, he talked about two ways of building a company and now again by introducing Kindle Fire he has mentioned two other type of companies.
“There are two types of companies: those that work hard to charge customers more, and those that work hard to charge customers less. Both approaches can work. We are firmly in the second camp.” Of course by the first one he means Apple.
After reading ” Do More Faster ” by Brad Feld and David Cohen, I got hooked up to the easy writing style of the authors. “Venture Deals” is the new book by Brad and his co-author “Jason Mendelson” that covers topics related to legal and economics of dealing with venture capitals. I have read two chapters of the book so far, and it has been a joyful reading. I have learned a lot about the serious and kind of hidden aspect of starting a business. Most entrepreneurs who are young and doing this for the first time have no clue what so ever about the legal issues, economics, and control of their startup. Most of us technical people get in to building things and we forget that there is something else that we need to be concern about; business. Venture deal is going to be a great read and I am sure by the time that I am done, I will know more about the subject than my friend at Harvard Business School
Wow, I haven’t written since June. Coding and building up my new project is taking all my available time. But here we go again! Passed weekend I attended t=0 conference at MIT. The conference was about entrepreneurship and the challenge was to build a startup over a weekend. I proposed an idea on visualizing email service, but there were not enough software engineers around. So, I joined another team to make a service to create food ordering over twitter. Well, we built the service by Sunday evening and we won the second place among 13 teams.
At the end of the conference, Brad Feld who has authored books such as “Do more Faster” and “The venture deals” spoke to us through Skype. One of the audience asked him about working vs quitting and creating a company. Brad was quick to tell us quit. If you want to build a company you have to quit. Here is the dilemma that another entrepreneur once brought it up in another conference. What if your idea doesn’t have the potential to win? by wining he meant to create profit, in another word to be a reasonable business. The answer is tough. Are you the type of person who takes calculated risks or you are the rebel who goes out and no matter what wants to create something even though it might not result in a successful business.
I think it was by yesterday that I could find a reasonable answer to all of these and the question that I brought up about moonlighting back in June. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com has proposed that there are two ways to build a company. According to Bezos “There are two ways to build a product. The first: a company starts with their strengths and builds to the needs of the consumer. The second: a company starts with the needs of the consumer and builds (into) the strengths of the company.”
So, each one of these approaches needs a different kind of team. The link above provide more insight in to that, which I am totally agree with. However, the question arises that if the entrepreneur has not yet developed the kind of skills that are needed to build up the idea, does it mean that he/she still has to jump in to the pool? Well, depends on the depth of the pool. I believe practical entrepreneurs have dreams that fits with in their vision. In another word, the dream and the idea has to fit the line of sight of the founder. If you don’t know much about programming, there is a very very high possibility that you can not go out there and create a new operating system that rocks the PC world or if you don’t know much about cooking the chances are quite slim that you can go out there and start a successful restaurant. So, first things first, to succeed as an entrepreneur you need to develop the right skills, a mixture of technical and business skills. By business I mean that you need to be able to read a balance sheet and understand what it says. By technical skills, I mean that kind of skills that are directly related to your idea. In most cases you or your team need to create a prototype. So, work on developing the skills. If you don’t have what it is needed, then start taking the first steps. One step a day, and get out there, find people who would like to join you in making your dream a reality. Finding the latter one is really hard.
The common question that comes to many entrepreneurial minded people with a day job is that should I quit or should I stay at work and slowly work on the idea? This is an important dilemma with great consequences. It is the matter of prioritizing where your best energy has to go. Ideally employers want you at your best and you want your best for your own entrepreneurial project. So, what a real entrepreneur does?
Here is my first post from my iPhone. I’m wondering why I started so late on this. Blogging anywhere, anytime from my phone. Sounds wonderful!