Better Solutions and Worst Internet Startup Mistakes

    The best and worst decisions (part one) .

    To launch my new blog, StartUpping , I asked many successful Internet entrepreneurs the question of what they learned by opening and supporting the work of their Internet companies. I asked about their best and worst solutions, and got a lot of practical answers. Here is the first series of answers.

    John Battelle (John Battelle).

    John Buttel is an entrepreneur, journalist, professor, and author who has been the founder or co-founder of various companies, magazines, and websites. A former lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley, Graduate School of Journalism, Buttel is the founder and executive producer of the Web 2.0 conference and co-author of Battel was previously the founder, chairman and CEO of Standard Media International (SMI), the publisher of The Industry Standard and Prior to founding The Standard, Battel was also a co-founder and editor of Wired Magazine and Wired Ventures. John is now the founder and chairman of Federated Media and John Buttel's Searchblog .

    1 . You either retain control or do not try to pretend that you have it. Here is my main lesson from The Industry Standard. This was the first large-scale business, which, it seemed to me, I built myself, and I acted accordingly. But the main control always remained in the hands of the parent company. We fought for a long time, and I lost.

    2 . Do not save on the hiring process. Never. I recruited people with the right resume, but deep down I felt that they were not the kind of people that fit the company. I thought that skills or resumes would outweigh teamwork. That never happened.

    3. Do something out of love, not for money. This is a hackneyed truth, but very, very true. I didn’t start anything because of money. It’s great for some people to start companies for money, but not for me. And I suspect that most entrepreneurs are like me in this.

    3a . But first, make sure that anyone needs your initiative at all. About everything that I started myself or took part in the start, I first talked with key players who could support or hack this idea, and convinced them to become investors, or enlisted their help. If these guys were critical of the idea, or she did not interest them, then ... well, this is a pretty good sign that the case will not burn out. This does not mean that the idea is bad, just probably you are not the one who should do it.

    4. Choose your audience (niche) and stick to it. Once upon a time, we decided that Federated Media would be “author driven”. We could decide that the company would be “advertiser driven”, but inside me the idea popped up that the company would have to deal with guys who made the sites we work with. The core of Wired was ideas, the core of The Standard was journalism. One clearly distinguishable driving force helped make the right decisions in those difficult early years.

    5 . Do not start anything, simply because you can do it. Do something because it's good for the guys in step 4.

    Dick Costolo (Dick Costolo).

    Dick Costolo is CEO and co-founder of Feedburner , a leading provider of media distribution and audience engagement services for blogs and RSS feeds. Prior to that, he was the co-founder and CEO of In September 2000, was sold to 724 Solutions. Prior to joining Spyonit, Dick co-founded Burning Door Networked Media, a web design and development consulting company. In October 1996, the Burning Door was taken over by Digital Knowledge Assets. Dick also runs the Ask The Wizard blog .

    The best decisions I made always related to hiring decisions. When you are really worried about the lack of a specific person in the staff, it is very easy to hire the first person to come for an interview, but for a company that is just starting its work, it is vital to make sure that all the people in your team think that this is the most suitable for this work man. You are always advised to hire first-class specialists, but the person should also be suitable for the team that you select and for the company that you imagine it.

    I made a lot of mistakes, so I’ll try to remember just one thing that will serve as a good lesson for startups - for example, one of the biggest mistakes that I made in the company I used to work in was to conclude one very expensive contract in that area, which was not key to my vision of business. Although the initial profit seemed great, there is nothing worse than chasing that share in the business that is not key to your vision of a startup. Lesson - once deciding what you will do, do not spray on another. One of the hardest lessons that entrepreneurs need to learn is what incomes should be discarded. Of course, you can decide to turn every time the market turns, but in a startup, everyone should focus their efforts in a single direction, and drop projects,

    Paul Graham (Paul Graham).

    Paul Graham is an essayist, programmer, and developer of programming languages. He is now a partner at Y Combinator , an innovative venture capital firm specializing in investing startups in the early stages. He is also a co-founder of Startup School . He previously helped develop Viaweb, the first web application later purchased by Yahoo, and then the first to create a Bayesian spam filter that inspired most modern spam filters.

    The best decision I made was to make Viaweb a web application. There were no web applications at the time, so we were not even sure if anything like this was possible. What initially motivated us was our common dislike for Windows. Writing a desktop application would mean learning Windows, which we really did not want to do. Therefore, the servers were the same Unix machines we used every day. To create a web application, all we had to do was figure out how to enable users to work with our software through clicks on web pages. It was much easier than learning Windows.

    Although, no, in fact the best solution was to get two amazingly good programmers, Robert Morris and Trevor Blackwell, to found a company with them.

    Probably my worst mistake was that I did not act decisively with investors. Now I understand what investors like when you push. This convinces them that you are able to take matters into your own hands. But due to the fact that our investors were so older than us and seemed to give us a lot of money, I felt obligated to give in to them. And at the same time, I was not prepared enough to conduct business as they wanted, in something really important, for example, what our programs should be, or what our strategy should be. This inconsistency led to disputes that took up a lot of time and energy.

    I understand that this was not really a decision. Rather, it was what I did not, than what I did. But I think the worst startup mistakes are basically like this. My other big mistake was that I did not carefully examine the intellectual property agreements that the people we hired signed. It almost ruined us later. But I did not decide not to do this, I simply did not pay much attention to it.

    Mayfield Ross (Ross Mayfield).

    Ross Mayfield is the chief executive officer and co-founder of Socialtext , the first wiki company and a leading provider of Enterprise 2.0-style solutions. A renowned blogger and industry expert, he is a serial and social entrepreneur. Under Mayfield’s leadership, Socialtext has grown to become a company with more than 2,000 service, application, and open source clients.

    The best solution is, in fact, to become an entrepreneur in general. I began my career in the non-profit sector, then in the public sector, dreaming of changing the world. I quickly realized that I could prove myself and earn a living in the private sector. I was lucky to work in a company that produces socially useful products. In addition, I believe that as the founder of a startup, you can quickly have a significant impact, possibly more than on any other job. This is how to ride a roller coaster. On one day, you can shine with pride that you create jobs and a satisfying place to work, and on another you experience stress when meeting with employees and trying to make people be more humane to each other.

    Answer No. 2, to more accurately link this to the decision ...

    The best solution is to choose the co-founders you trust.
    I will not exaggerate if I say that you are getting married with your business partners, especially when it comes to startup co-founders. Some see their partner as a “computer-obsessed girl” because of their excellent knowledge of technology, or as a “guy on the wire” because of pleasant conversations and access to capital. Although you want to work with highly qualified people, I would say that the paramount is whether you can trust your partner. If there is the slightest doubt, either resolve them, or get out of business, and quickly. I was lucky to work with great people whom I can trust in my life. In addition to trust, I would also put experience in working with startups above certain skills. Anyone who has already rolled on a roller coaster before is still less likely to vomit on your knees.

    The biggest mistake is not to take the greater risk earlier.
    Perhaps this is due to the fact that all risks are clearly visible retroactively, but I always regretted that I had not taken the greater risk earlier. For example, we did not open the source code for Socialtext until the company was firmly on its feet. Partly due to the fact that we thought sales would fall, and partly due to the lack of staff to truly engage the community in development. But, as it seems to me, if we had done this earlier, the company would have shown better results. Now, as a planning exercise, I always try to ask two questions: “How can we take greater risks?” and "What risk will create the largest number of options for us?" I realized that there are always ways to achieve more, for example, by overcoming the instinct to control everything that is common among so many entrepreneurs.

    Chris Pirillo

    Computer fan, Internet entrepreneur, a man obsessed with hardware and software, author of a book, once a television show host, technology enthusiast, indiscreet propagandist of himself, technical conference coordinator, ideological evangelist, tech blogger. support, bootloader, media person, technology consultant, more and more. You can call Chris at 1.888.PIRILLO and leave a question for him to answer in his podcast. You can always find Chris's blog at Chris.Pirillo.Com .

    Bad decision: deal with sellers who had no idea what they were selling. A good seller (and there are probably only two of them on the whole planet) will cost you dearly, but a bad seller will cost you even more. I loved them with all my heart, but love does not help pay bills. The moral of this story is to be careful when it comes to losing control of your business model.

    A good solution: find someone who would help me with various tasks (I followed the publication schedule, controlled our authors, etc.). Robert Glen Fogarty was sent to us from above, and I regret that I did not find it several years ago. He is incredibly talented and successfully relieved my daily stress. The moral of this story is: don't be afraid to give up control to the right people.

    Once again, I thank all the responding entrepreneurs and hope to write to you soon about the answers of the others (Mark Fletcher).

    ( Part Two ).

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