Notes : startup 101

The journey so far has taught me these:

  • Techies like big pathbreaking ideas. The customer wants the next risk-minimized money-making/saving product. The former needs to become V2 if the market is at the latter.
  • Your competition is
    • compnaies like yours (similar product/market niche)
    • companies who dont like you - essentially people who will benefit if your kind of product/provider did not exist at all. They may be big, muscled.
  • VCs will sometimes contradict themselves, sometimes each other. If the market tells you otherwise, the market is right. Stand firm.
  • 'My own company' has fifty different definitions. Everyones reason to 'do a startup' is different, and everyone is right. You just should have a reason you believe in as you start.
  • 'Growth' is a hydra-headed monster. One head grows too slow and the monster stumbles. The 'hiring' head is one to nurture/watch out for.
  • Money might not be *that* big a deal - still unsure of this one but sometimes want to believe it. Of course, scaling needs cash.
  • Speed/energy are often less important than clarity of thought, action. The former follow with the latter in place.
  • Nothing teaches as much as a mistake. Really. Seriously. (I know you've heard this but its not embedded in your head till you make that mistake :) )
  • Mood swings happen to more than PMS affected individuals :) Startups are a hotbed for rapid changes between elation/pessimism.
  • There are a gazillion RSS feed readers, and all suck.
  • How to set up a CVS server, BugZilla.
  • How to use the right words to describe what you do and yet retain IP.
  • Repetitive Stress Injury is always minor to start with - but does not go away even in that form.
  • 5-9am is my best time of day.
  • Reducing commute stress is a HUGE boost to productivity.
  • Rs 4/- coffee is way more than 1/10th as good as that which costs Rs 40/-
  • Risk taking takes off when people see a hope of the risk being backed up by investors (ok this needs a separate post by itself). So cash is king when hiring.
  • 'Doing nothing' for a month x 2 people is 3k plus of 512kbps downloads !!
  • Messenger is a way better networking tool than LinkedIn
  • GPRS speeds suck. I personally do not have the patience for those - and I'm not even gen-x
  • You generally have no clue to 'other worlds' out there ready to spend on what might seem strange things to spend money on to you :) But thats your market!
  • Like at home, keeping accounts is the last thing that gets going. And one of the most important ones.
  • If eveyone uses OpenOffice, MS-Office is NOT a standard that many tout it to be.
  • gmail rocks (even to set up ur own smtp server, effectively)
  • Naming conventions are a no brainer to believe in, uncool to talk about, diversionary/contentious to discuss, extremely difficult to remember and adhere to, and downright painful to get back to (and yes, you NEED to) once you've strayed.
  • Dev with 2 engineers is 5x as tough (operationally, not engineering-wise) as 1, and this goes on till I guess about 5-7. After that it stabilizes (hopefully)....

Watch this space :)

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