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Justin Auciello

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Top 10 Reasons Why Web Startups Fail

michaeljjacobson:

I’m republishing something I came across back in the Fall of 2007 while working on a start-up in the Flatiron (formerly known as “Silicon Alley” for some of you older peeps like myself)… Anyway, I don’t recall where I found it or its author, but I think much of this still applies for web start-ups in today’s ever changing online environment…

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Valuable reading for online entrepreneurs. In fact, anyone planning to launch or grow a business should read it, and then print a copy for reference.

#10 Marginal Niche
Web Startups fail by choosing a small, obscure niche in the hope of avoiding competition. If you make anything good, you’re going to have competitors, so you may as well face that. You can only avoid competition by avoiding good ideas.

#9 Copying Success
Web Startups fail by trying to duplicate a great idea. If it’s been done once then chances are others have tried, and failed. There can only be one amazon.com or ebay.com. Come up with your own unique and fresh concept.

#8 Inflexibility
Your business plan should be an organic document that can adapt to change. Web Startups fail because they refuse to deviate from the plan. Listen to others, get advice and keep your eyes open; adaptation is the mark of a successful business.

#7 Getting the Wrong Help
Good people demand good wages. Hiring the cheapest person is a recipe for Web Startup failure. Old sayings become old because they are true, the best example being “you get what you pay for”.

#6 Listening to an Un-Expert
Web Startups fail by acting on advice given by an unqualified person. Anyone can claim to be an expert at something and often we lack the knowledge necessary to determine their qualifications. To protect yourself from the Un-Expert get a second, third or fourth opinion. It never fails to ask around.

#5 Forgetting the User
Web startups fail because the websites are designed from the perspective of the business owner, not the user. In an entrepreneur’s excitement and passion for their idea, they can often lose sight of their customer’s accessibility needs. Focus groups and user trials can be a great way to improve customer interaction with your website.

#4 Running out of Runway
Web Startups fail by forgetting or downplaying funding. Every startup that isn’t profitable has a certain amount of time left before the money runs out and they have to stop. This is sometimes referred to as runway, as in “How much runway do you have left?” It’s a good metaphor because it reminds you that when the money runs out you’re going to be airborne or dead.

#3 Spending Too Much
Often caused by listening to the Un-Expert, Web Startups fail because they over spend needlessly. Unless your doing volume of business equal to chapters.ca you do not need a dedicated co-located IBM Xeon server when a $20.00 hosting account will suffice.

#2 Believing the Hype
The web is all about Hype; from get rich quick schemes to seemingly endless unsolicited emails claiming to have insider information. The reality is that the people who get rich quick from the internet put a lot of thought and energy into their projects, just like anything else. The internet is a great medium for scammers

#1 A Half-Hearted Effort
The failed startups you hear most about are the spectacular flameouts. Those are actually the elite of failures. The most common type is not the one that makes spectacular mistakes, but the one that doesn’t do much of anything—the one we never even hear about, because it was some project a couple guys started on the side while working on their day jobs, but which never got anywhere and was gradually abandoned. In other words, starting startups is just like everything else. The biggest mistake you can make is not to try hard enough.

I bet Kevin Rose would argue otherwise re: #7.

4 years ago

October 11, 2009  

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As a catchall profession, urban planning tenets are applicable to all facets of daily life—above all else, as planners, our primary concern is to create healthy, sustainable, and happy communities.

With the advent of the Social Web, software developers—seeking the trifecta of personal, professional, and financial satisfaction—continually develop products that promote healthy, sustainable, and happy communities.

I am talking about urban oriented applications in the iPhone App Store; web/mobile social networking applications (Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Foursquare, etc); Government 2.0/civic engagement applications (CitySourced); crowdsourcing forums (DIY City) and blogs (Neighborhoodr); and, purveyors of open source civic tools (The Open Planning Project).

There is a clear, natural linkage between the urban planning practice and the Social Web; they dovetail nicely, as the ultimate goal of both is to improve our quality of life.

4 years ago

October 7, 2009  

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photo Quitting Their Jobs to Focus on Beer
Stephen Valand, 23, and Erica Shea, 25, quit their jobs earlier this year to start the Brooklyn Brew Shop, which makes gallon beer-brewing kits sized for New York City apartments. The couple starting selling the kits in early July at the Brooklyn Flea Market and online.
Story: Jennifer 8. Lee/The New York Times
Photo: Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times
It’s a brilliant business concept that capitalizes on the simmering NYC craft beer craze.

Quitting Their Jobs to Focus on Beer

Stephen Valand, 23, and Erica Shea, 25, quit their jobs earlier this year to start the Brooklyn Brew Shop, which makes gallon beer-brewing kits sized for New York City apartments. The couple starting selling the kits in early July at the Brooklyn Flea Market and online.

Story: Jennifer 8. Lee/The New York Times

Photo: Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times

It’s a brilliant business concept that capitalizes on the simmering NYC craft beer craze.

4 years ago

October 6, 2009  

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quote
eBay, YouTube, Sun, Oracle, Apple, Cisco, Facebook, Yahoo!, and Google. All of them share a couple common traits: they launched before taking outside investment, and they were able to do it because they had a set of founders with the skills to build the initial version of the product themselves.

4 years ago

September 24, 2009
reblogged via brit
 

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photo mikomercer:
BusinessWeek: Betting on the Real-Time Web
From the article:

Are people getting ahead of themselves? Possibly. Twitter has just started exploring ways to generate revenue, and its prospects are unclear. Facebook, with its blend of social networking and real-time activity, has struggled to turn rising popularity into profits. Even Borthwick, perhaps the real-time Web’s key articulator, concedes he hasn’t yet identified a blockbuster business model for any of betaworks’ firms.

But there’s a method behind the mania. In just the past couple of years, several developments have come together to make the Web more of a real-time experience: ubiquitous high-speed Internet connections; a growing number of mobile devices such as the iPhone with full Web browsers; and new Web technologies that enable instant transmission of messages and data. That mix has made always-on, real-time communications easy and addictive.
The well-known, clear paradox of Web 2.0: insanely useful sites with exploding traffic that are unable to turn viable profits.
It’s just the beginning.
That’s why, when I hear people say/tweet that Twitter and Facebook are here forever, I chuckle.
Foolish.
As indicated in the graph above, Twitter has exploded (and we already knew this, of course), but the backlash and waning times are inevitable.
While both are the darlings of the tech world, innovation is so fluid that it’s just a matter of time until “the next big thing” arrives, and from this article, it’s clear that brilliant people are working toward that goal.
Both Twitter and Facebook have proven themselves as powerful media platforms, as well as goldmines for marketing information, business generation, and most of all, search capabilities <especially with Facebook’s FriendFeed acquisiton today>, but the innovation threats are on-going.
These threats, of course, are good for the end-user, us, as better products are ultimately created. Ironically, the main threat to us is the future gobbling up of smaller competitors by Facebook and Twitter in order to silence any movement.
As for the FriendFeed acquistion, it’s not just for real-time search, but more so a talent acquisition, which will futhur solidfy Facebook in its battle against Twitter.
What’s Twitter’s next move?
It’s getting interesting.

mikomercer:

BusinessWeek: Betting on the Real-Time Web

From the article:

Are people getting ahead of themselves? Possibly. Twitter has just started exploring ways to generate revenue, and its prospects are unclear. Facebook, with its blend of social networking and real-time activity, has struggled to turn rising popularity into profits. Even Borthwick, perhaps the real-time Web’s key articulator, concedes he hasn’t yet identified a blockbuster business model for any of betaworks’ firms.

But there’s a method behind the mania. In just the past couple of years, several developments have come together to make the Web more of a real-time experience: ubiquitous high-speed Internet connections; a growing number of mobile devices such as the iPhone with full Web browsers; and new Web technologies that enable instant transmission of messages and data. That mix has made always-on, real-time communications easy and addictive.

The well-known, clear paradox of Web 2.0: insanely useful sites with exploding traffic that are unable to turn viable profits.

It’s just the beginning.

That’s why, when I hear people say/tweet that Twitter and Facebook are here forever, I chuckle.

Foolish.

As indicated in the graph above, Twitter has exploded (and we already knew this, of course), but the backlash and waning times are inevitable.

While both are the darlings of the tech world, innovation is so fluid that it’s just a matter of time until “the next big thing” arrives, and from this article, it’s clear that brilliant people are working toward that goal.

Both Twitter and Facebook have proven themselves as powerful media platforms, as well as goldmines for marketing information, business generation, and most of all, search capabilities <especially with Facebook’s FriendFeed acquisiton today>, but the innovation threats are on-going.

These threats, of course, are good for the end-user, us, as better products are ultimately created. Ironically, the main threat to us is the future gobbling up of smaller competitors by Facebook and Twitter in order to silence any movement.

As for the FriendFeed acquistion, it’s not just for real-time search, but more so a talent acquisition, which will futhur solidfy Facebook in its battle against Twitter.

What’s Twitter’s next move?

It’s getting interesting.

4 years ago

August 10, 2009
reblogged via mikomercer
 

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Are You Really an Entrepreneur?

(I’m swamped with work, but I had to post quickly..)

It’s a straightforward question.

Are you?

A May 7, 2009 New York Times article poses the eponymous question and enunciates a “Top 10 List” of what it takes to be an entrepreneur.

The same publication ran a March 13, 2009 article about why perilous economic times spur innovation and invention.

According to the March 13, 2009 piece:

The goal for many entrepreneurs nowadays is not to create a company that will someday make billions but to come up with an idea that will produce revenue quickly, said Jerome S. Engel, director for the center for entrepreneurship at the Berkeley Haas School of Business. Mr. Engel said many people will focus on serving immediate needs for individuals and businesses.

“It’s a very painful thing,” he said of the pressure people feel to find new ways to make money. “But it’s a healthy thing.”

When your back is against the wall, you must be prepared to fight, but is entrepreneurship for everyone?

According to some, if you have the courage, passion, intelligence, and drive, there’s a chance that you’ll be successful, even though the odds are still stacked against you.

Venture Capitalist Fred Wilson argues that a college degree is not a pre-requisite to entrepreneurship. When he may be fundamentally correct, I feel that my seven years of post secondary school education provided me with a solid foundation (not just educational, but life) off which I can function well in the business world.

So, are you really an entrepreneur?

Here’s the “Top 10 List” from the May, 7 2009 Times article:

  1. You’re always looking for opportunities. This is almost the definition of an entrepreneur. Every pain point is an opportunity.
  2. Are you prepared to work long hours, every day, for an indefinite period of time? Ahem, let’s dispel illusions. Put down “The 4-Hour Workweek”; it is a myth that the author spun to sell books (so that he could work 4 hours a week).
  3. Good Health. You cannot answer “Yes” to item #2 unless you are blessed with good health and the discipline to maintain it in tough times.
  4. Do you have a unique service or product? Most entrepreneurs have a pocketful of ideas, many of them viable. But they suffer from the “kid in a candy store” dilemma, not knowing which to choose. The trick is choosing the one that really is a winner and having the discipline (see item #9) to ignore all the others.
  5. Are you willing to make short-term sacrifices for long-term success? There will be long periods of time when everyone around you questions your sanity, and on all normal metrics (hours worked and stress endured vs. material rewards gained), they would be right.
  6. Honesty and integrity. You often have to be able to work with people without the protection of legal contracts. It is the essence of moving fast, and you often simply won’t be able to afford a lawyer. So, you have to work with people who have honesty and integrity. It is hard to do that unless you have honesty and integrity yourself.
  7. You’re dreaming miles ahead while focused on what you’re doing right now. The entrepreneur is an odd mix: part dreamer, part brutal realist and pragmatist. You should focus first on today and, secondly, on the big picture, and ignore the rest. Today is about the immediate stuff that you have to get done to stay in business, to deliver projects to clients, to collect cash, and so on. The big picture is about looking at what the world might look like 10 years from now and then building towards that. We cannot know what will happen next week, month, or year. The medium term is totally unknown. However, many long-term trends are fairly clear, even though the timetable is unknown.
  8. Are you self-confident? You will almost certainly be going against odds that would make most people run away.
  9. Discipline. This relates to many of the other traits mentioned in this checklist. You will need discipline to maintain your health (item #2), so that you can work hard (item #3), so that you can focus on the one product or service you have chosen and ignore all temptations (item #4).
  10. You’re prepared to say, “I don’t know, but I’ll figure it out.” Entrepreneurs have to be generalists. They may know one thing very, very well. But they also have to know enough about almost everything else to occasionally do those things themselves, and have the judgment to eventually hire the right people to do those things.

This list is tremendous; not only does it spell out the “10 Commandments” in clear and precise language, but it is a blueprint for focus, or if you have decided that you do not have discipline and trust (IMHO, the most salient attributes), a ticket to working for someone else.

If you think you have what it takes to pound the pavement, work long hours, deal with disappointments, struggle, and focus, then starting a business may be ripe for you.

Even so, this list is not the actual biblical 10 Commandments, so don’t worry if your outlook is inconsistent with any or all of these tenets.

Try it.

Who knows?

5 years ago

May 8, 2009  

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video

From GroundReport:

GroundReport CEO Rachel Sterne asked the NYC Twitter community for their thoughts on why New York is the ultimate startup city.  The tweets helped structure the Field Guide to NYC Entrepreneurship: a quick overview of the city’s resources, with tips for getting launched and noticed.

Presented at BootUpNYC, the guide is free and available for download on SlideShare.

To see my response as to why NYC is the ultimate startup city, proceed to page 4 of the embedded PowerPoint presentation.

Although I’m bummed that I could not attend BootUpNYC tonight, I am quite pleased that I stumbled upon GroundReport, thanks to—again—networking on Twitter.

The following is from the “About GroundReport” section of the site:

GroundReport.com is the world’s hyperlocal citizen news platform, empowering anyone to post news reports, videos and photos and earn money. Every day Ground Report’s network of over 4,000 international contributors publish breaking news articles, videos and photos, which are vetted by  trusted corps of trained editors.

Our major 2008 coverage included scoops from the Beijing Olympics, U.S. Presidential elections and Mumbai terrorist attacks. GroundReport was founded in 2006 by former UN reporter Rachel Sterne, inspired by her experience reporting on the Security Council. Named one of America’s ‘most promising social enterprises' by BusinessWeek in 2009, GroundReport's mission is to democratize the media.

We’re different because unlike traditional news organizations, GroundReport has no overhead and reporters are already on the ground, at the scene—all over the world.  There are no barriers to reporting the news, which means GroundReport coverage is faster, deeper and more global.

As a news junkie who is investigative by nature, I look forward to contributing. With the ascension of New Media, (as I outlined exhaustively in my March 30, 2009 piece entitled, “Old Media is dying, so what is to be done?”) hyperlocal reporting from citizen journalists will continue to expand in prominence.

5 years ago

April 22, 2009  

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