The Wall Street Journal is one of the few newspapers that I still give the time of day but I still stay mostly in their business and tech sections. Yesterday they posted an article that really nailed it about how an entrepreneur’s passion can destroy a startup. The title is a little click baity for my tastes but passion and startups are definitely hot buttons of mine.
Key points out of the article: Passion is what drives most startups but it can blind you to the gaping issues.
Issues that you need to pay attention include (but not exclusive to) the following areas in no particular order:
network of folks
and much much more
Reality is that we get excited about an idea and want to run with it but without a full team that keeps their eye on all of the various issues, you’re doomed to fail.
If, on the other hand, you’ve got a diverse team with a range of skill sets who are working on the project together and helping cover each other’s weaknesses, you’ve got a much better chance.
One of the big things that a lot of startups forget though is family life. There’s the old adage, “An entrepreneur is someone who works 16 hours a day for himself to avoid working for someone else.” This means that family can easily fall off the side when you are deep into it. Long after you’re startup has been gone (success or failure), your family is going to be there for you. Make sure that you spend some time with them and are sensitive to their needs as well.
The two things that really stood out to me as far as data points in the article:
52% of founders are replaced by their third round of funding.
78% of experienced founders would either wait longer to get funding or bootstrap themselves the whole way.
Both of these data points hit me as a lot of times my advice to startups is to wait on taking investment and these two give me a little ammo as to why that’s sound advice. I always ask startups two questions when it comes to investment:
do you have a clear plan as to how you’ll spend every penny?
Are you 100% sure that the potential investor is on board with your vision and bought in for the long haul?
If you’re just taking money from anyone with a checkbook, that’s a recipe for failure.
In short, make sure that your passion, while an amazing thing and the driving force behind any successful startup, is not blinding you to the potential train wrecks.
One of the things that gets me excited is working with new forms of user interaction. Or rather old forms of user interaction that humans use being used with our users.
Amulet devices are doing just that. They are a BizSpark startup based in Dublin, Ireland. They are a device and software company. The software does voice control of Windows Media Center which can be the hub of your home entertainment.
Their remote is a universal remote that has a very clever microphone that is activated by a gyroscope. When you tip up the remote, it activates and allows you to control your media center by voice. It means that the remote won’t accidently pick up your voice and start changing channels on you right before the winning goal or the bad guy gets the bad guy. It also means that it’s you can use it in a crowded and noisy room as the mic is right next to you.
They are, unfortunately not available for sale in Europe but they are available all over North America.
Welcome to 2012! This is the time of year that everyone sets new resolutions and prognosticates about the future. I’ll be honest, I have no idea what 2012 brings. I’m excited about the promise of the year though and I’ve got a few things that I’m looking forward to.
We are at an interesting juncture in technology where truly the only limits are our imagination.
I look at movies like Minority Report and how advanced we thought the technology was when he was traversing the computer with his glove. Here we are less than 10 years later and the Minority Report is old school because he had to wear a glove. Technologies like the Kinect are revolutionizing how we interact with technology. There are some companies doing some remarkable things with it. For example, VonBismark is one of my great Irish startups and is doing amazing things with Kinect. They have been working on a prototype. They placed their prototype at Liffey Valley Mall and had 15k interactions in the first 3 days.
Nobody needed instructions or to be pushed into trying it. It was just there and people interacted with it. I’m looking forward to a near term future where I walk into my living room and my computer not only recognizes me but sees that I’m in a good mood so puts on a little progressive rock or that I’m in a bad mood so fires up the metal.
What I love about this is that technology is disappearing into the background and just working for us rather than us working for it. I really hope that this is a glimpse into the future.
And then combine that with the ability to launch a startup with global reach and the ability to scale to all size customers in practically no time.
For example, take a look at a Zartis – another great Irish startup. They went from concept to customers in 10 weeks. They are 6 months in and they have 500+ customers and the vast majority are not from Ireland. They were able to do that with almost no capital investment due to technologies such as Azure. Through BizSpark they were able to start on Azure for free and then as they scale, with revenue tied directly to traffic, they pay for overages when they go beyond the free benefits.
So unlimited computing power combined with unhindered and amazing user experiences speaks to a very bright future to me.