Tag Archive for 'links'

Inside a start-up success story

From the persistence paid off file of start-up stories:

Our first big retail break was landing an account with Stew Leonard’s, the four-store Connecticut grocery chain. For months we bugged the buyer via phone. He ignored us. To get his attention, we decided to bring him breakfast one day.

We woke up at 6 a.m. and dressed in Bear Naked T-shirts. We borrowed china from Kelly’s mom, which we used to display fresh fruit, our granola, and Stew Leonard’s brand of yogurt. We were the first car in the lot at the chain’s headquarters. After we climbed the stairs to the office, the receptionist told us the buyer was on vacation. We were deflated!

But then, as we were walking away, we recognized Stew Leonard Jr. “Stew!” we yelled. “We brought you breakfast!”

He seemed impressed by our youth and enthusiasm and asked us into his office. He said he was used to brokers pitching 55 products at a time and that it was refreshing to meet young kids so eager to sell a bag of granola. After talking with us for two hours, he said he wanted to help us out. He decided to place our granola in his stores.

The full Bear Naked story is over at CNN Money, it’s full of great insight into the reality that sometimes pure enthusiasm and excitement can be enough.

What startups are really like

Read in full. It’s full of important observations and insights that you’ve probably realized before but are refreshing to revisit. Ones that stuck out to me:

  • It’s an emotional roller coaster – In a startup, things seem great one moment and hopeless the next.
  • Don’t worry about competitors – Companies that seemed like competitors and threats at first glance usually never were when you really looked at it. Even if they were operating in the same area, they had a different goal.
  • Luck is a big factor – “When we started our startup, I had bought the hype of the startup founder dream: that this is a game of skill. It is, in some ways. Having skill is valuable. So is being determined as all hell. But being lucky is the critical ingredient.”
  • Persistence is the key – Everyone said how determined and resilient you must be, but going through it made me realize that the determination required was still understated. [...] If you are persistent, even problems that seem out of your control (i.e. immigration) seem to work themselves out. [...] I’ve been surprised again and again by just how much more important persistence is than raw intelligence.
  • You get no respect - “It surprised me that being a startup founder does not get you more admiration from women.”

Ten problems founders have

Worth reading the entire way through. The biggest issues for us at the moment are probably:

  • Founder burnout – We’ve all been working our hearts out on this for quite a while and I think some of us (myself included) are bumping up at the overwhelmed stage every so often. Fortunately, we’re also at a point where we can be better about load-balancing the projects we’re working on amongst multiple people. There are enough people involved with the project who also understand the common vision that it’s easier to distribute responsibility and know that the job will get done. To be proactive, I think we should be more assertive about giving people recovery time.
  • Things aren’t happening fast enough – This ties in with #4, not enough manpower or resources to get the job done. I think we do have enough manpower, mind you, but we’re at the slower end of product development while we’re really excelling at everything else. Something to be mindful of and serious about.

All in all, however, I think we’re making really good progress and have smoked past (in a metaphorical way) the other issues present in the post. There are just things that we need to be mindful of and realistic in addressing when they come up. Feel free to leave other things you can think of in the comments.

Seed funding possibilities

Five different possibilities. I think all of these could be worth applying to in a month or two if we go for-profit. They generally offer a small amount of funding in exchange for equity. Hat tip to Ryan for pointing this out to me.

Thinking about start-ups, some insights

I e-mailed this link to the group earlier and, unfortunately, still cannot find who tweeted it.

Startups: Start with a Problem, Not an Idea

In searching for the source, I happened upon this post:

Ten unconventional wisdoms for funding startups

Enjoy!

Building a CMS on TWiST

This Week in Startups has actually been running for a few weeks now, but I’ve finally taken the time during my run to listen to the first episode. If you have the time, I’d encourage you to listen as there are a lot of ideas related to building a CMS. Most notably, they talk about the value of using wiki-type software for topical landing pages (in this case, different verticals).

Weekend of Deep Thought

This weekend was a powerhouse of forward thinking pieces on the future of news. From Steven B. Johnson’s “Old Growth Media and the Future of News“:

This was obsessive behavior, I admit, but not entirely irrational. It was the result of a kind of imbalance: not a chemical imbalance, an information imbalance. To understand what I want to say about the future of the news ecosystem, it’s essential that we travel back to my holding pattern outside the College Hill Bookstore — which continued unabated, by the way, for three years. It’s essential to travel back because we’re in the middle of an epic conversation about the potentially devastating effect that the web is having on our news institutions. And so if we’re  going to have a responsible conversation about the future of news, we need to start by talking about the past.

[...]

To use that ecosystem metaphor: the state of Mac news in 1987 was a barren desert. Today, it is a thriving rain forest. By almost every important standard, the state of Mac news has vastly improved since 1987: there is more volume, diversity, timeliness, and depth.

[...]

In fact, I think in the long run, we’re going to look back at many facets of old media and realize that we were living in a desert disguised as a rain forest. Local news may be the best example of this. When people talk about the civic damage that a community suffers by losing its newspaper, one of the key things that people point to is the loss of local news coverage. But I suspect in ten years, when we look back at traditional local coverage, it will look much more like MacWorld circa 1987.

[...]

I think that steady transformation from desert to jungle may be the single most important trend we should be looking at when we talk about the future of news. Not the future of the news industry, or the print newspaper business: the future of news itself. Because there are really two worst case scenarios that we’re concerned about right now, and it’s important to distinguish between them. There is panic that newspapers are going to disappear as businesses. And then there’s panic that crucial information is going to disappear with them, that we’re going to suffer as culture because newspapers will no long be able to afford to generate the information we’ve relied on for so many years.

Continue reading ‘Weekend of Deep Thought’

This is what failure looks like

I’m a big fan of the ‘reality check.’ Which is why the entire CoPress team, and anyone who’s about to take on a venture similar to ours, oughta read the following article.

http://calacanis.com/2009/02/27/what-to-do-if-your-startup-is-about-fail-or-dont-stop-believing/

Yes, I’m putting in the full URL so you can’t possibly miss it because this is what failure looks like.

CoPress has customers. We have a vendor (more soon likely). We have a reputation to uphold. We are all intimately invested in see that this project takes over the world. (or at least, saves journalism) (or at least helps a few newsorgs out) (or, ____insert lofty goal here_____).

But, we can fail. It could happen. It would suck.

Read that article . You need to know what we could go through. We need to be able to recognize what failure looks like. In part so we can avoid it, and in part so that if it gets down to that, we know what to do.

IT’S A MUST READ.