Friday, April 4, 2008

Ingredients of Startup Success

Paul Buchheit of Gmail and FriendFeed fame recently posted the best synopsis of the ingredients of startup success I've seen.

There's one thing I'd add, using the same mountain climbing analogy. Often you put a team together, and it climbs partway up a mountain expecting gold at the top. About halfway up a number of things can go wrong.
  • The route may be impassable given the climbing techniques the team is capable of (the technology doesn't give the hoped-for benefit)
  • You may get a good view of the top and see that there is no gold, just a bunch of shrubs. (the market dynamics make it hard to make a profit)
  • The view halfway up the mountain lets you see the top of an adjacent mountain that does have gold at the top (Focusing on a different segment of the market is more profitable)
  • There's a weak link in the team that makes climbing slow and difficult (missing skill sets)
In my experience these types of problems are not exceptions, rather the norm. Successful teams recognize the issues quickly and make the changes necessary, whether that be changing market focus, hiring different skillsets, or changing the product to better meet the market's needs.

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