Saturday, November 25, 2006

New Entrepreneurs lead markets by making them

I came across an old web entrepreneur who is doing all the right things, is passionate about his idea, has tons of experience but somehow sounds boring compared to a young web 2.0 company who is in his space. I feel sorry for him, but got the Aha about something fundamental about being an entrepreneur.

Real entrepreneurs are not the ones who use the latest jargons but ones who personify the latest trends in their thinking and execution plans.

What is fundamental for any startup is the passion of an entrepreneur. If the passion can be left raw, and the entrepreneur allowed to take risks to follow their heart, assuming the basics of a smart team are in place, we can see a successful startup evolve.

The passion sadly get skewed as the 30 sec pitch is practised multiple times by the time it gets in front of people it matter. When you talk in detail to an entrepreneur, their fundamental belief systems and way of operation comes through no-matter how much it is camaflouged in the latest trends and jargons.

All startups operate in an ecosystem of other entrepreneurs, existing companies in their space, investors, influencers and media folks. Media chases the latest big thing. Investors huddle in trusted circles and look for new trends to understand where innovation may happen next.

I am not for force-fitting your startup into the latest trend. I want to go deeper to tune to market trends to build your operational plan around it. Being an entrepreneur is about adapting change and enjoying and capitalizing opportunity it presents.

For example, when we hosted Coola, we paid $700 to Digex, which merged into Worldcom and collapsed and we moved to a hosting company at $175 ( we hosted 1 million users) and thought we got a deal, while today hosting costs start at $10 monthly and the variables of the options are also different. With my last startup Moomli, we build a whole ecommerce platform and store front with opensource software.

More important is the trend change with relation to hiring, retaining talent and marketing.
There are so many sources online to build your logo, to outsource components of work, to find smart people not by looking at resumes but by looking at their work and their place on the web.

As for marketing, I hate to admit new entrepreneurs carry less baggage if they did not know about linkexchanges from the past, or even focused too much on Search Engine Optimizations because history has told us that real brands on the web including the latest big brand of Google was build by passion with lot of PR and not real marketing dollars. So marketers need to understand how to generate loyalty in their customers and tie their brands with the passion of the startups and let it fly, for which they need to know the navigation in today's web and brands.

The best way, or the only way I know to do it is immersion, just start a site or get deeply involved into startups and be critical of your own experience that you are doing the right thing for the scenario involved, and not because it worked for you in the past.

Enjoy the ride, the fun is in the change and how we adapt and stay young in it.


Anonymous said...

I am responding to Sudha's request to help her focus on a topic for her upcoming panel engagement.

I feel that anything she speaks on (whatever the topic) the same basic strengths she has will come to assist the entrepreneur in learning the fundamentals which she knows so well - -and that is really linking up your idea with the market and understanding how to get the whole thing into gear and moving -- and then keep it moving forward. Creation of the idea is great --but taking the idea and making sure there is a viable business structure - a supportive and buying customer (either customers in the B2C or B2B market) willing to pay a handsome price such that there is a profit and return to investors (or owners) at the end of the day. I know this is simple sounding - but in reality if it is just selling needles and thread on a pushcart it would be easy -- but involving technologists -- personalities - time lines - deliverables from others you don't control - and so many other variables around financing and putting the business on a sound footing - I think she will be doing her audience a great honor to help impart her knowledge of these Business Basics to them as they hear it right from the source, as she has done this and been there before. I wish you the best on the event - and we misssed you at Boston BarCamp2 two weeks ago where we nearly had to postpone due to serious snow/ice storms on the eve of the big event's first day. We still had a really great turnout and event (and weather co-operated - no ice!).

Best wishes,

David (in Boston)

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