Archive for June, 2007

To start or not to start

Marc Andreessen (he of Netscape fame), posted yesterday on reasons Not to do a Startup. It makes for great reading, and it made me think about why I decided to go down this path.Marc begins with covering some of the positives of a start-up environment:

  1. The opportunity to be in control of your own destiny
  2. The opportunity to create something new
  3. The opportunity to have an impact on the world
  4. The ability to create your ideal culture and work with a dream team of people
  5. Money

While my motives have ebbed and flowed with time, my primary motivations are a healthy dose of 1, a dash of 3, and a side serve of 5.

This quote from the article sums me up perfectly:

you get to succeed or fail on your own, and you don’t have some bozo telling you what to do. For a certain kind of personality, this alone is reason enough to do a start-up.

My career history is marked by “nose bleed pace” rises up the corporate chain, followed by spectacular flame outs. I would rise just to the point where I either completely fecked up, or hit an internal executive who didn’t think it was up to me be explaining why their particular strategy was a pile of poo. I’ve never been sacked (perhaps I wasn’t trying hard enough), but I’ve seen the writing on the wall twice now.

To quote Andreessen again, in a post on hiring right:

Driven people don’t tend to stay long at places where they can’t succeed, and just because they haven’t succeeded in the wrong companies doesn’t mean they won’t succeed at your company-if they’re driven.

True words indeed.

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Hiring the right people

Scott Handsaker – 13th June 2007

Finding the right people for your start up is crucial, and this is especially true with a technology orientated company. You want developers who are ridiculously smart – people who spend their leisure hours trying to problem solve rather than relax in front of the box.

Have we got the right people?

Our database consultant got bored on the long weekend, and so decided to build himself a robot. He hooked it up to his GPS system, and as I type it is currently mapping out his bedroom.

I think we found the right guy.

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Building awareness post-launch

This afternoon I spent a few hours with Norman nutting out a sales and marketing plan for the launch of the product. Our strategy is one which practically guarantees that the product will not be bug free or feature rich upon launch, so it is hard to know how much to push the marketing in the first 30-60 days.We want people coming in and using the product and providing immediate feedback, but we don’t want really want to hit the front page of Techcrunch until we are a little further down the track. We need to get the balance right.

TrickyTix’s Scott Handsaker (left) and Norman Aquino nut out early strategy

Yellow Pages? Waste of time for our model, and would take too long.
Radio and TV? Don’t have the budget.
Advertising? Maybe – depends on the publication.
Blogosphere? Yes please.

So the mix we have come up with is an attempt to strike a balance between the need to attract people from day 1, but not so many that we can’t focus on product development (which is the aim for the first 90 days).

0-30 days (first month)

  • Media Release (multiple)
  • Pay Per Click (PPC)
  • Organic Search (link building)
  • Direct Mail (postcard campaign to selected niche market)
  • Blogosphere Buzz

We are an online app, so I think it is right that 60% of our efforts (PPC, link building and blog buzz) are devoted to building awareness to customers that are online. It is effectively a “soft launch” strategy, but that’s what we need.

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