Tag - startup

Why We Prefer Founding CEOs

Great article from a Ben Horowitz, a venture capitalist. Here’s a small snippet:

The technology business is fundamentally the innovation business. Etymologically, the word technology means “a better way of doing things.” As a result, innovation is the core competency for technology companies. Technology companies are born because they create a better way of doing things. Eventually, someone else will come up with a better way. Therefore, if a technology company ceases to innovate, it will die.

These innovations are product cycles. Professional CEOs are effective at maximizing, but not finding, product cycles. Conversely, founding CEOs are excellent at finding, but not maximizing, product cycles. Our experience shows—and the data supports—that teaching a founding CEO how to maximize the product cycle is easier than teaching the professional CEO how to find the new product cycle.

The reason is that innovation is the most difficult core competency to build in any business. Innovation is almost insane by definition: most people view any truly innovative idea as stupid, because if it was a good idea, somebody would have already done it. So, the innovator is guaranteed to have more natural initial detractors than followers.

via Why We Prefer Founding CEOs // ben’s blog.

Entrepreneur? Study yourself!

I already re-tweeted … but I have to post this.

In a great Open Forum post on How to Escape Mundanity (which is actually about how to start your own business), there’s this great quote from Pamela Slim:

If you are in the very early stages of thinking about a business, spend your time getting to know yourself. One of the best things I learned from author Jim Collins is to study yourself as if you were a scientist observing a bug. Pay very close attention to the things that either make you feel great or feel crappy. Note the kind of environment, work, people, topics, industries, schedule, and activities that make you thrive. When you start your business with this awareness, you will feel natural energy and clarity which will make all the next steps of the process like choosing a business idea, figuring out the money, planning your business, identifying your customers, and creating a marketing process a lot easier.

Pamela Slim, you say? Yeah, that’s Pamela escape-from-cubicle-nation Slim.

To me, this quote – and the post – is not so much about becoming an entrepreneur and starting your own business as it’s about finding what you love and doing what you’re passionate about.

That’s escape enough for anyone.

Coworking in Abbotsford, BC

I’m starting to think about starting a coworking space in Abbotsford, BC.

I’ve been working out of my home office for about 4 months right now, and while the commute is great, the community is absent. There’s a buzz and a beat to working with others – especially cool, innovative, smart, and creative people – that you just can’t match when solo.

The coworking wiki describes it this way:

Coworking is cafe-like community/collaboration space for developers, writers and independents.

Or, it’s like this: start with a shared office and add cafe culture. Which is the opposite of most modern cafes. 😉

If you’re wondering: what on earth is coworking, check out this video:

For more info, visit the Coworking Community Blog and the Coworking wiki.

Let’s talk
If you’re in Abbotsford and are also interested, let me know.

Technorati tag: coworking

Start-ups: the perils of launching early

There are good reasons for some start-ups to run in stealth mode for months or years of their early existence.

I was reminded of a few as I was reading Chris Maxcer’s review of Joost for the iPhone. Check out this gem, about the desktop version:

I had briefly used Joost’s client-side Mac video viewing application in its early days, back when Joost had very little content … then forgot about it.

The dilemma is harsh: you want to launch as early as possible to:

  • start the buzz machine
  • stake your claim to the space
  • tantalize current and potential investors
  • maybe, possibly, potentially, hopefully start to pull in some small amount of revenue
  • and, of course, reassure your mother that you have a real job, actually work, have prospects, and aren’t aimless, drifting, shiftless, and just too stubborn to admit it

But the problem is obvious: launching too soon can blow your buzz as users eat your dogfood and throw up … never to arrive at your dinner table again.

That’s exactly what happened to Chris. In this case, however, Joost is lucky enough (and, frankly, has enough market momentum) to warrant a second look – occasioned by the release of their app on a new platform: the iPhone.

The question is: have they learned their lesson? Apparently not, as Maxcer reports:

The 1,813 reviews on the Apple App Store seem to agree with me: Joost has lots of promise but it fails miserably. The average rating is two stars. Many users, though, noted that they were basically waiting for a non-buggy updated version from Joost.

Turns out the mobile web is just … the web

Russell Beattie should stand up tall and proud. The Yahoo! alum gave up a secure job (well, sorta secure) and a steady paycheck to tread the uncertain waters of the startup life, and unfortunately was sucked down.

He developed Mowser, a mobile web browser for small-screen mobile devices (OK, that’s a fancy phrase for cell phones). Mowser made big fat web sites small and lean for tiny screens and narrow pipes. (Example: check out Sparkplug9 in all its Mowser glory.)

But then iPhone showed us that the future of the mobile web was … err … the web. Not some “baby internet,” in His Steveness’ words, but the real internet. In your pocket. On your phone. On your iPod. And those of us who had tried to scrunch the web down onto our 2″ screens jumped up and said Amen.

Here’s how Russell says it:

The argument up to now has been simply that there are roughly 3 billion phones out there, and that when these phones get on the Internet, their vast numbers will outweigh PCs and tilt the market towards mobile as the primary web device. The problem is that these billions of users *haven’t* gotten on the Internet, and they won’t until the experience is better and access to the web is barrier-free – and that means better devices and “full browsers”. Let’s face it, you really aren’t going to spend any real time or effort browsing the web on your mobile phone unless you’re using Opera Mini, or have a smart phone with a decent browser – as any other option is a waste of time, effort and money. Users recognize this, and have made it very clear they won’t be using the “Mobile Web” as a substitute for better browsers, rather they’ll just stay away completely.

I can’t agree more … as unfortunate as it is for someone who’s sunk his life savings into making the web work in miniature.

In any case, he’s now looking for a job.

Someone will benefit by having him on-board. Not only is he new media savvy, he’s just spent his life savings figuring out what doesn’t work. Some smart company is going to be the beneficiary of that hard-won wisdom as he starts building what does.

. . .
. . .

More analysis, insight, and general reportage:

ReadWriteWeb sort of agrees
Last 100 disagrees
Mobile Marketing Watch might want to buy Mowser
Another one hits the deadpool
Venture Chronicles thinks the mobile model is wrong
Larry Dignan at ZDNet mostly agrees