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Myth: Entrepreneurship Will Make You Rich October 20, 2009

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[…] One of the unfortunate side effects of all the publicity and hype surrounding startups is the idea that entrepreneurship is a guaranteed path to fame and riches. It isn’t. Building a startup is incredibly hard, stressful, chaotic and –- more often than not –- results in failure. That doesn’t mean it’s not a worthwhile thing to do, just that it’s not a good way to make money.

A more rational career path for money-making is one that rewards effort, in the form of promotions, increased security, salary and status. Startups, unfortunately, punish effort that doesn’t yield results. In fact, the biggest source of waste in a startup is building something nobody wants. While in an academic R&D lab, creation for creation’s sake will often get you praise, in a startup, it will often put you out of business.

So why become an entrepreneur instead of developing technology in an R&D lab? Three reasons: change the world, make customers’ lives better and create an organization of lasting value. If you only want to do one of these things, there are better options. But only startups combine all three.

Take this fictional example of a Seedcamp attendee (actually a composite), which I will refer to as Hairbrush 2.0. At the helm of Hairbrush 2.0 are dreamers with deep AI background. Their dream is to use AI to solve some of humanity’s big problems. Originally, they thought they could make a learning engine that would accurately predict consumer preferences, and tell people what products to buy. Imagine a shopping engine that does your shopping for you. Brilliant. And also very, very hard. So like good entrepreneurs, they went searching for an easier problem to start with, namely helping people find just the right –- you guessed it — hairbrush. This idea took them right off the rails.

They were busy building their product as if they were still in a research laboratory. They hired hair-styling experts to feed their expert system. Their algorithms were world-class. And yet nobody was using it.

The worst part? They didn’t know why.

Hairbrush 2.0 didn’t have contact with customers. Not only that, nobody in the company actually had a use for the product they were building. Trust me, these guys did not brush their hair.

There’s nothing wrong with starting small on the way towards a larger or more mainstream product. But to become an entrepreneur, you have to serve customers, stay true to your vision and build an organization — all at the same time. Indeed, that constant balancing of short- and long-term priorities, vision and data, customers and employees is what makes it almost impossibly hard.

That’s not to say the Hairbrush 2.0 team is doomed. They can make up for their lack of domain expertise by putting a product out early, spending a lot of time with potential customers, and being rigorous about measuring how real-life customers interact with it. But in order to do that, they’re going to have to keep two seemingly contradictory ideas in mind at the same time: that their vision is going to change the world, and that their vision is also horribly flawed. Which parts of the vision are which? There’s no way to answer that in the lab. […]

via Myth: Entrepreneurship Will Make You Rich.


Nokia To Acquire UK Startup Dopplr September 23, 2009

Posted by hruf in Mobile & Gadgets.
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Nokia has been on an acquisition tear lately, albeit mostly small deals (Plum, Cellity and Bit-Side all this year). A source close to the deal says that they’ve just made one more acquisition: boutique travel social network Dopplr, headquartered in London.

The purchase price, we’ve heard, is between €10 million and €15 million ($15 million – $22 million based on current exchange rates). Dopplr cofounder and CEO Marko Ahtisaari was previously the Director of Design Strategy at Nokia.

We first covered Dopplr in 2007 when it closed on seed funding. The site has never grown to huge usage, but core users are passionate about the service, which lets them share travel plans with friends. And they’ve supposedly raised just €1.25 or so in total funding.

Dopplr was about to close a new round of funding when Nokia swooped in for the buy.

via Nokia To Acquire UK Startup Dopplr.

The TechCrunch50 List: the presenting startups | VentureBeat September 14, 2009

Posted by hruf in Enterprise 2.0, Internet & Communities, Mobile & Gadgets, Multimedia.
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TechCrunch50, which showcases 50 yet-unlaunched startups, kicks off today. Here’s a partial list of the companies that are demoing throughout today and tomorrow. There are a few ones that are still unreleased:

via The TechCrunch50 List: the presenting startups | VentureBeat.

Boxee Watches $6 Million More In Funding Stream In August 12, 2009

Posted by hruf in Internet & Communities, Multimedia.
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Boxee, the media center software startup, has won a lot of fans with its open approach to streaming content. And as a result it has won some more money, to the tune of a $6 million second round, led by Boston’s General Catalyst Partners. The new money will be used for growth: Both expanding the team and expanding the service’s reach in the market, we’re told.[…]

At the same time, Boxee is working hard to get the beta version of its software out the door (it’s still currently in Alpha). Back in June, it previewed that release while also unleashing a huge update to its service which finally included support for Windows. With that important support, the service now has over 600,000 users, we’re told.

via Boxee Watches $6 Million More In Funding Stream In.

People on the Move in the Social Media Industry: August 7, 2009 August 10, 2009

Posted by hruf in Internet & Communities.
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Despite a downturn in the economy, we continue to recognize those moving in the social media space. I’ve started this post series (see archives) to both track and congratulate folks who get promoted, move, or accept new exciting positions. Please help me congratulate the following folks:

via People on the Move in the Social Media Industry: August 7, 2009 « Web Strategy by Jeremiah Owyang | Social Media, Web Marketing.


Startup 101: Introducing Our Serialized “How to Build a Startup” Book July 19, 2009

Posted by hruf in Enterprise 2.0, Internet & Communities, Mobile & Gadgets.
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ReadWriteStart is writting an interesting series about startups:

“Startup 101” is a serialized book about the thrills and spills of starting a Web technology venture. It will be a regular feature in our new channel ReadWriteStart, dedicated to profiling startups and entrepreneurs. Startup 101 is for first-time entrepreneurs who want to go through the whole startup life cycle – including raising money, building a valuable business, and making a lot of money by selling the venture or taking it public.[…]

This series is designed for Web technology startups. But if you are building a clean tech, bio tech, outsourcing, hardware, or other type of technology venture, we hope some of Startup 101 will be useful to you, too.[…]

The chapters/posts we have planned are as follows. In line with the iterative/agile model of the Web, we reserve the right to change the order and to add, delete, and alter chapters as we progress on this journey.

  1. 10 things to be clear about before you start
  2. Are you really an entrepreneur?
  3. How first-time entrepreneurs can work well with investors
  4. Creating your vision, mission, strategy, and plan
  5. Finding the right wave to ride (secular trends)
  6. Working booms and busts to your advantage (cyclical trends)
  7. Building your team pre-financing
  8. Building an advisory board
  9. Finding a URL and company name
  10. Company registration choices
  11. The Capital-Raising Ladder
  12. How to pitch to a VC or angel
  13. How not to get screwed by VCs
  14. Understand the scale vs. profitability trade-off
  15. Build an insanely great Web service
  16. Learn to negotiate and close
  17. How to be an effective executive
  18. How to hire an A-Team
  19. How to fire non-performers
  20. How to hit your numbers
  21. How to build age-appropriate processes
  22. Steps in building a brand
  23. How to scale without losing your shirt
  24. Maintaining focus, health, and passion during the grind-it-out phase
  25. How to build an effective board
  26. Planning your exit
  27. When and how founders should hire a professional CEO
  28. Read some great books for inspiration
  29. Negotiating your exit
  30. Congratulations! What’s next?

via Startup 101: Introducing Our Serialized “How to Build a Startup” Book – ReadWriteStart.

Five Early-Stage Alternatives to the Traditional Investment Model of Growing Startups July 12, 2009

Posted by hruf in Enterprise 2.0.
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For everyone, which ever planned to found or already in the phase of starting a new company there is an interesting article about alternative investment models:

The ways to grow a tech startup company are outnumbered only by the ways to skin a cat.

In between multiple rounds of venture capital from investment groups and skin-of-your-teeth bootstrapping, there exists an ecosystem of organizations designed to grow startups with a mixture of business acceleration, development assistance, small rounds of funding (usually just enough to keep Top Ramen on the table), and general advisement. Each organization has its own trademark way of doing things, and here are five that we find fascinating. (more…)

Why do Fast Followers often beat the First Mover innovators? June 28, 2009

Posted by hruf in Enterprise 2.0, Internet & Communities.
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Don Dodge wrote an interesting article about “Why do Fast Followers often beat the First Mover innovators?“. He comes at the end to the following conclusion:

There is a rare breed of technical visionaries who are also great business leaders. Bill Gates, Gordon Moore, Larry Ellison, and Scott McNealy are examples. They are truly extraordinary and rare. However, I suspect that each of them has a strong business management team behind them. Bill Gates has Steve Ballmer. Larry Ellison had Ray Lane. The early innovators who failed did not have the business leadership necessary to sustain them.

Lessons for entrepreneurs;

  • Never stop innovating
  • Build a well rounded management team early
  • Value sales and marketing talent as much as technical talent
  • React quickly to disruptive technologies or business models

Read the complete article on the next page: (more…)

Slide Company Profile June 24, 2009

Posted by hruf in Internet & Communities.
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Slide, founded by PayPal co-founder Max Levchin, makes widgets that help people express themselves. The company took a big risk in 2006 when they gave users the ability to auto-insert slide shows into their MySpace pages and blasting bulletins out to all their friends.[…]

Slide has since evolved to offer a number of widgets. Users create and personalize widgets on Slide.com and can then use them on social networks, blogs and desktops.

According to comScore Slide has more than 117 million unique monthly viewers. Slide also claims more than 200,000 new Slide Shows are added to the Slide Network each day.


Slide initially focused on MySpace, but now their widgets can be used on a number of sites including Facebook, Bebo, Hi5, Xanga, Tagged and Blogger. In addition, Slide also has some of the most popular applications on the Facebook Platform. Top Friends, a Facebook app which displays a user’s best friends on their profile, has over 8 million users. Most of Slide’s traffic comes through the use of their widgets though, which are Slide Shows, Guestbook, Image Hosting, FunPix (spice up your pictures), SkinFlix (personalize YouTube clips) and Screensaver. When you want to add a little pizzazz to your profile, website or desktop, these are sure to do the trick!

via Slide Company Profile.

What is Evernote? June 23, 2009

Posted by hruf in Internet & Communities.
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Capture what you like, find it when you want

Stop forgetting things. Capture everything now so you will be able to find it all later.

Things to capture:

  • Tasks and to-dos
  • Notes and research
  • Web pages
  • Whiteboards
  • Business cards
  • Scribbles
  • Snapshots
  • Wine labels
  • Even Twitter messages

And then find them all any time across all the computers and devices you use.

via What is Evernote? | Evernote Corporation.