Saturday, October 04, 2008

20 tips on how to start a start-up

20 tips on starting a Start-Up, presented by Andy McLoughlin who started as gathered by Zack Whittaker (Student Technology Day: how to start a start-up | iGeneration |

  • Take advantage of every connection possible. Regardless of how tenuous they may be, you’ll know a lot of people and they’ll all be able to help on one level or another.
  • Be ruthless when doing deals; even at the very beginning. If you let people walk all over you, you’ll set a precedent from that point on and people will start taking advantage from a very early start.
  • Design, build, then test and carry on with that cycle. Once a feature works, carry on with the development cycle and don’t stop or deviate until you’re ready to present the world with a product at very least beta stage.
  • Be completely and utterly uncompromising in your vision. People may end up hating you because you won’t deviate from your goal but it’ll all be worth it in the end.
  • Go big or go home. If you can’t convince even yourself that your product isn’t good enough, then you won’t be able to convince others.
  • The way to a rich man’s wallet is through his PA. If you can, get out a copy from the library, of “The Beermat Entrepreneur“.
  • Software is expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. With DreamSpark and the MSDN Academic Alliance programs which are often supported by your university or college, this makes getting hold of expensive software easier - and for free. Don’t forget, a lot is open-source as well - and by definition, open-source is free.
  • Focus all your energy on getting the product great. Marketing, press and public relations can wait as they come later on. Once you’ve got a brilliant product, that’s when you can start showing it off to the world.
  • Get out there! Meet up’s and events, conferences and parties are a great way to meet influential people, often those with huge amounts of cash. By meeting these people will help you get more innovative ideas and also make connections.
  • Successful companies don’t have to work in Silicon Valley, although it does help. are based in London and are more than happy with that; nevertheless, going out there to Silicon Valley and meeting more people is an important part of keeping relationships going with different people and other companies.
  • Funding gives you a little bit of breathing space. Once you get funding through from investors, that’s the time to get the staff just right. Sure, it’ll mean firing people but it also means getting to hire the best of the best.
  • You can’t do all of this by yourself! Seriously, if you did then you’ll end up going potty. What do you think CEO’s, CTO’s and CIO’s are for? Spread the load, spread the work.
  • Being acquired by someone isn’t a business model. If you tell your investors your main goal is to be acquired, they’ll lose faith. Just avoid doing it.
  • You’ll always have more ideas than the capacity to make them happen. Sure, having inspiration and understanding is important, but you’ll have a ton of things you’ll want to include and integrate, but you can’t always make them happen straight away. Give yourself time and a plan for future releases.
  • Make the company feel like a family. Why do you think Google and Facebook are doing so well? Having a “family” as a workplace makes happier employees, therefore better employees. Invite friends, family, siblings and spouses along to events - get them part of the family too.
  • Keep an eye on the web, because that’s where a lot of your inspiration will come from. Mashable, Technorati, Twitter and Techmeme are great sources for information and more importantly, inspiration.
  • Never lose sight of what you’re doing. If you do, you won’t survive.

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