My Career, Sans Ladder

May 03, 2006

Beyond the summary - thoughts & observations from startup school

Rather than rewrite summaries of the presentations I saw (which are covered nicely here) figured I'd try to take a step back and look at the weekend as a whole. What was the overall message of startup school?

Just because startup costs are lower than ever that doesn't mean it's any easier to start "a business". You still have to have a well-timed and well-executed idea - and even then, there's still going to be lots of change, near disasters, near successes, and just a lot of unexpected surprises along the way.

The most important thing when building a web company is users....obsess about making them happy, because the second they're not happy, they're gone. Happy <> giving them everything they want all at once - it means making it clear to them what your doing, and then consistently making progress on that promise. Listen to your users as many ways as possible - thru metrics, usability testing, chat rooms, blogs, etc...

When trying to get users - speed matters: page load times, days between your last blog post, frequency of updates made to your site, handling any errors.

Everything you do in the early days is marketing...features offered (and not offered), how you communicate to users, who you commnunicate to, how you respond to feedback.

Everyone, no matter how interested they are in building a startup, wants to work at Google, end of story. Chris Sacca's talk was one big commercial for Google (unlike all the other presentations) but everyone was drooling to work for GOOG by the end of it...except me :)

The world is indeed flat, but location still matters. Even though outsoucing is playing a bigger role in the smallest of companies, founders hacking in the same room is still something that can't easily be replicated.

The children are our future...unfortunately, 95% of them are male. Lots of < 25 yr olds in the audience, but hardly any women - even though the ratio of male to female speakers was 70/30-ish.

More quotes from the speakers:

"Commitment is a self fulfilling prophecy...determination, not intelligence is the number one key to success." - Paul Graham

"Enron happened, WorldCom happened, happened" - Om Malik

"People will come up with ingenious ways to be annoying" - Josh from

Still have plenty more notes, but I'd love to hear some feedback before I go any further...did any of you find this blog thru Sphere?


  • do you like Lisp?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:47 PM  

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