Monday, December 25, 2006

Meeting fellow entrepreneurs

I can't say enough about how great a feeling it is to talk to entrepreneurs. There is just an air of excitement around them just because of the fact that they are doing something they are passionate about. These people are the ultimate "do-it-yourself"-ers.

This past week, I spent time in the Bay Area meeting with a few startups. Being a student definitely has its being the ability to open doors. As a student, when you ask to meet a company, you are seen as harmless and inquisitive. Furthermore, many companies welcome your visit with open arms. As a non-student, either unemployed or employed, you are seen kind of as a nuisance.

During my trip, I met up with the founders of Spark Parking, TravelPost (recently acquired by SideStep), and meebo. I asked the founders the same set questions centered around what it takes to start up a company. Should I seek investors? When is the right time? How do I find the right people? When do I know if my idea is a good one? Although I have worked for a couple startups, I had a lot of other questions. It is very different if you are the one actually leading the charge and much more intimidating.

At the end of my meetings, I came out with some key takeaways:
1) Believe in your idea! If you think you have a need for your idea, chances are there are millions of other people who also have the same need. To be a successful entrepreneur, you also have to believe more than others. It is this dedication that sets you apart.

2) Be resourceful! If you believe in your idea, then find the best way to execute with the least amount of cost. Don't reinvent the wheel, especially when someone else is selling what you need at a lower price than you could make it for. Open source is great.

3) Sell! You must always be in constant sell mode. In addition, you need to regularly fine tune your pitch based off of feedback from customers, investors, and partners.

4) Plan for the future! As a web company, this means make sure you use technology that is easily transferable. You'll never know when your lead programmer will leave, so making sure someone else can pick up where things are left off is critical.

I was also able to bounce my business idea off of them and get some good feedback. Let's see how things go from here...

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Message me

I've added an IM widget from meebo (a very cool company by the way), on the side >>>.

If you see that I'm online, send me a message and I'll respond right away. If I'm not on, still leave a message and I'll respond the next time I'm logged in.

Finals week. When that finishes up, I'm hoping to find a coder from my fraternity who can help me build out my site!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Good Reading

Here are a couple links to some good readings I have come across recently.

For Start-Ups, Web Success on the Cheap
- Discusses a trend for startups towards smaller amounts of financing

How to Start a Startup
- An article from Paul Graham, who created the technology behind Yahoo! Stores, with tips for startups

Here we go...

Given that I am considered by many who know me a pretty tech-savvy guy, I am pretty late in the game to this blog scene. However I have never really seen the need to share my life with others. So what has changed now? Well let me start with where I am in life...

I am a 1st year MBA student at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. Before starting at business school this fall, I worked at a startup education consulting firm name ADIS Corporation. I learned a great deal working at ADIS and met some interesting individuals during that time. ADIS was the 2nd startup I actually worked for. The first was an internet consulting firm named ZEFER. It was at ZEFER that I found my interest in entrepreneurship. I worked at ZEFER the summer after my freshman year at MIT. I was one of its four original interns, earning a $500 stipend (and free monthly subway passes) for the entire summer (that worked out to much less than minimum wage). But as I have learned in business school, non-monetary compensation often is valued much more than monetary compensation. And as an eager student at MIT, the prospect of being involved with an exciting venture-backed firm was more than enough compensation for me.

Back to here I am sitting in my apartment thinking about what I want to do. Most of my fellow business school students are running around like chickens with their heads cut off trying to figure out if they want to go into banking, consulting, or marketing. At least most of them have narrowed it down to two of the three. Not to let you think I am above the fray, I have also dipped my feet into the pool of consulting presentations. I even had one firm call me today asking me if I was going to apply -- to which I of course said "Yes!" Ugh...I feel shameless.

But I feel somewhat lucky. I actually do know exactly what I want to do. I want to start my own tech company. The sad thing is that I've been saying this since I was at MIT. Ever since I got the startup bug at ZEFER, I've been telling people that I wanted to start my own company; but the time wasn't right or that I didn't have the right idea. I'm 27 now and I think those two excuses have now exhausted themselves out completely. Especially since as a student I don't have a job so the time IS right; and because I do have the idea. And yet I keep feeling held back. Professors, career counselors, family and friends all tell me to "get some work experience first." It would be too easy to listen to them. I need to believe in myself and break free from the binding safeness of excuses that are too easy to fall back on.

Harking again back to my college days, my fraternity had this tradition of watching Braveheart before the start of every term to inspire us through the academic gauntlet known as MIT. My favorite scene is before the Battle of Stirling when William Wallace stands before his ratty and timid army of Scotsmen -- sent to the battlefield by their coward lords -- and to this band of men he says,
Fight and you may die. Run and you will live -- at least awhile. And dying in your bed many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance, to come back here as young men and tell our enemies that they may take our lives but they will never take our freedom!
That scene never failed to give me a rush of adrenaline. So this blog is my statement that I am making a commitment to my goal, my dream. It all starts here...