One of the things I really liked about this session was that it was three older women, and not all of them lived in the Valley (sadly I can’t find the description of the panel or the panelists). So much of what I read and hear about tech startups is SV based, that it’s extremely refreshing to hear an outside perspective!
Advice from Founder.
- Don’t start with an exit strategy.
- 5m users and no money is not a business, it’s a hobby.
- Aim for happy users and customers.
- Doing a startup is like sprinting a marathon.
- Can’t have work life balance at a startup. It’s not 9-5, but nor is it 8 hours a day. It’s not for the faint of heart.
- It will suck you in and take over who you are.
- When you hire someone you own their pay check. You don’t want to be responsible for them starving.
- When you hire a board, it’s like a marriage where they can divorce you but you can’t divorce them.
- Board can kick out founders at any time. It’s really hard for founders to buy out a board.
- You think you are ready to launch – make sure you have a great idea. Get buy-in from your family. Gives the example of making her son a cofounder.
- Build a strong team around you, you don’t want to be alone.
- Objections to having a cofounder is splitting equity, but remember 100% of nothing is nothing.
- Cofounder needs to be someone you will listen to. Sometimes you’ll be wrong.
- Almost everything in tech can be built to some approximation, but not everything should be – because no-one will pay for it.
- In enterprise, have to consider if it is 10x faster. The advantage has to be an order of magnitude better, otherwise not worth the switch.
- Some things should be built, but not at that time. Gives example of first company, cloud. Timing was a big ingredient (she was too early).
- Enterprise space, need 10-20 customers. Consumer products, need hundreds.
- Raise seed money and experiment a lot. No real money until a few million customers, experience with engagement, retention.
- If you don’t get negative feedback, either you are not listening or someone is being nice to you.
- Good ideas fail big or win super big.
- Get intelligence about what other companies are doing. Worry about competing with big companies.
- Avoid the drive to zero (e.g. cloud). Need to be so differentiated that it won’t be commoditised soon.
- Don’t wait for the moment where you just know; this is mostly not what happens.
- If when frustrated, instead of complaining, you take action; you’re an entrepreneur. You can do this even if you have a job. It’s more of an attitude than DNA.
- To start a company you need an idea.
Advice from VC.
- Look for secrets.
- Big companies are already working on the obvious ideas. Not a good idea for a startup company.
- Secrets may look like bad ideas.
- Look for founders who know the tech better than anyone, understand the environment really well. Had a personal experience, e.g. Lyft came from founder experience in Zimbabwe [story].
- Believe something that none else believes. E.g. of Salesforce, really hard to get funding because regular VCs didn’t believe that anyone would store that kind of information with anyone else.
- Look for idea that upsets the norms and challenges convention, e.g. AirBnB creates experience around travel different from staying at the DoubleTree. The pitch sounds ridiculous.
- VCs are sometimes too old for new ideas. You wouldn’t do that, but would others? New York AirBnB stats are incredible [AirBnB stats page].
Joanna on Entrepreneur Qualities
- Brimming in confidence.
- Loves to be out the box, “not sure how many of you think you are in a box”.
- Perpetually interested in everything.
- People-oriented problem solver.
- Great storyteller.
- Leads by example.
- Knows when you get expert experience.
- Tolerates failure well.
Paula on Entrepreneur Qualities
- You get as much joy out of the idea as you do in bringing it to life.
- “Everyone has fabulous ideas, not many people act on them”. It’s not just about the idea, but also about the discipline to act on it.
- How to get joy out of using the things you build.
- You cannot imagine sitting on a good idea and not taking action.
- You reserve the right to get smarter and learn.
- You cannot stop yourself thinking about how things could be better, and then work on making them better.
- Product genius is something that cannot be taught. Tech founder is best suited to track those trends and follow accordingly.
2 replies on “#GHC13: Panel on Entrpreneurship”
“5m users and no money is not a business, it’s a hobby” and other insights from the #GHC13 Panel on Entrpreneurship http://t.co/bwwPYaj07o
RT @catehstn: “5m users and no money is not a business, it’s a hobby” and other insights from the #GHC13 Panel on Entrpreneurship http://t.â€¦