Now that I’ve been here for a few years, it’s clear to me that the Silicon Valley echochamber has its clear negatives as well. Being out of touch with the average American consumer is one obvious negative. Chasing down technological rabbit holes is another.
One of the most common conversations you’ll overhear at any startup event is one entrepreneur giving another entrepreneur their elevator pitch. Or, you’ll overhear an entrepreneur giving their pitch to a prospective startup engineer. In fact, I would argue that many startups spend more time talking to other people “in the know,” than they do potential customers, whether those startup savvy people are investors, job candidates, fellow entrepreneurs, advisors.
Stop reading blogs so damn much
Have a strong vision that’s flexible yet specific
Ignore the competition
Don’t go to startup events
Forgo short-term opportunities if they are clearly short-term
Be skeptical of opportunities that are both hot, and easy
Remember that you only need one big success
I was very surprised to read this post on Andrew Chen’s blog. Since I’ve moved back to San Francisco, I figured everyone here was *all about* the web 2.0 scene.
I enjoy going to web events occasionally, and I’ve met other company founders who are really awesome. But for the most part, I’ve never really understood the appeal of immersing yourself into the scene here. People in SF seem to lack balance, they are unable to connect to normal users.
Even events like SXSW bother me. They are simply ways to meet other entrepreneurs and pat each other on the back. Nothing is learned or accomplished. If anything, it makes you even more disconnected from the normal world. You leave SXSW with the desire to build yet another location based social network, with tight Twitter integration.
I’ve also always believed in the “one big success” idea. So many entrepreneurs go from company to company, idea to idea. Either they are incredibly smart and can come up with ideas faster than I can, or they are chasing the wrong goal and are starting crappy companies just for the sake of having a company. I waited many years to start a company. I waited for the idea that was worth quitting my job for, taking a risk on.
I know my time at Apple greatly affected what Posterous is today. But I wonder if my time in New York also helped shape the product into something more accessible to the mass public. While I was in New York, few of my friends were programmers, and none were super techy.
I remember a long time ago when I was showing off Posterous to a friend. Well, it wasn’t called “Posterous” and it was only on my local machine. My friend suggested that instead of making a standalone product, I should make it a plugin for WordPress or Movable Type. I told him I have zero interest in installing and managing WordPress, and hundreds of millions of other people don’t want to either.
I think if I had been immersed in the web 2.0 tech scene, Posterous would simply be a WordPress plugin, and only used by geeks like me :).