Always New Mistakes

September 22, 2008

Why well funded startups waste money?

Filed under: Business, entrepreneur — Tags: , , , , , , , — Alex Barrera @ 12:49 pm

Sometime ago I had a conversation with a friend who asked me how much money I though was needed to get my startup going. I told him I though it would take 100.000€ to bootstrap it in the US, but that  it might be less. I still remember his skeptical face. I though he was going to tell me it was way too much, but to my surprise he told me it was way too low. I realized then that there is a great gap between bootstrappers and corporate drones. Enterprise people need like 5x to 10x more cash than what a bootstrapper needs but the truth is that this is just an illusion. It’s not true you need 10x more cash, it’s just that you aren’t used to save money.

As always, nothing is black or white and there are exceptions to this, but most of the time it’s just people flushing money down the drain without any real results. I really feel it’s because the money isn’t theirs and so, they don’t feel the pain it is to earn that money. Nothing like having your own savings at stake to think twice about spending it in stupid things.

The problem isn’t that corporate guys think this way, the problem is that I’ve seen many startups behave the same and I must say, it really shocks me. Wasting money is a bad habit, specially if you
are starting up and I think most companies don’t make saving money and resources a critical part of their company’s culture. For me it’s something fundamental in an organizations culture. Everyone should think about this, even when there is plenty of money, wasting it should be avoided.

What really strikes me is that the same behavior can be observed on peoples lives. Plenty of people ask us how are we (me and my girlfriend) able to live the way we do. The answer is that we don’t pay for stupid things. When someone tells you that they’ve spent 600€ in a pair of shoes I just roll my eyes. And don’t get me wrong, if you can spare 600€ a buy some awesome handmade shoes, please be my guest. The problem is that 99% of the times, people just can’t afore to do that and they buy them either way, which I must say, it’s just stupid if you ask me.

Sadly the only times I see companies trying to save money is when they need to bump their profits for the next quarter. The problem with this is that it’s too late. Creating a culture takes time and you can’t just reverse crazy spending overnight. Employees should feel that if they waste resources it’s their own payroll money they are wasting. The more you save, the more you get back at the end of the month.

And yes, I know, some readers are thinking, hey but I do save and my payroll is the same, instead those greedy bosses of me are earning much more to my expenses. This is both, true and sad, that’s why new entrepreneurs should start thinking about this issues from day one. Transparency is key for this to work and the problem is that not everybody is willing to be transparent. I would love to think
that money doesn’t changes people, but it’s not true, but if you have some solid guidelines and stick
to the basics I’m sure we could do much better.

Have you seen crazy spending in your company, in your startup? Tell us about it!

Image credits: http://www.savingadvice.com

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Would you buy a cool Twitter name?

Filed under: Blogs — Tags: , , , , , , , — Alex Barrera @ 12:07 pm

Leo Borj asks a very interesting question, should we start registering potentially valuable Twitter names, like if they were domains? This is a very common practice with domain names known as cyber squatting. You register a domain name with the idea of selling it in a future for a higher price to a 3rd party. You could also call it, name speculation. The domain squatting is a quite profitable market, albeit it sometimes touches some ethic boundaries. Anyway, the real question is, is it worth doing the same with Twitter names?

In my opinion, it might be worth trying, although there is a fundamental flaw. With domain names, it gets down to who registers it first (except in cases where you can probe that someone else is using a registered mark with nasty intentions and even though, it’s hard to get it back if you aren’t a multimillionaire corporation). In Twitter that law doesn’t holds, or better of, doesn’t holds always. Instead you have the following general condition:

We reserve the right to modify or terminate the Twitter.com service for any reason, without notice at any time.

As you can see, if you play the squatting game, you have a very high risk of having your account suspended if Twitter deems so.

Another question that arises me is, would people follow an account that isn’t from a real person nor a company nor a brand? I mean, would you follow a Twitter user named: @sexy_toys ? Personally I wouldn’t, but hey, I’m sure some people would if that account follows them first (the problem with this is that after the recent spam limits imposed by Twitter you have a fair chance of having the account suspended).

And finally, would you sell your Twitter account, either directly to 3rd persons or indirectly selling ad Tweets? I’m sure this is going to hit hard, I do think it would work if you play it well. Some basic ground rules I would like to see:

  • Don’t spam your followers. Some recommendations are ok, but don’t transform the account into a damn billboard
  • Don’t advertise things that no one cares about or that don’t have nothing to do with your Twitter audience.
  • Don’t advertise or recommend something you don’t like or haven’t tested. It’s bad for your followers and it’s bad for your reputation.

After all, I’m a true believer of what Dave Winer sometime said: “because perfectly targeted advertising is just information.

What are your opinions on the matter?

June 18, 2008

Next generation search engines

Filed under: Technology — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , — Alex Barrera @ 2:31 pm

I was reading Scoble’s post about Windows Live Search and I realized what the future of search is going to look like (or so I think). I realized that the users don’t know how to express in a written way what they are looking for. Most of the times, you type a couple of keywords that should, theoretically, yield some results from which you can identify the one you are looking for. Human powered search engines like Mahalo have the same problems. They rely in human beings building pages with the most relevant information about a topic, but if you are looking for something not that common you’ll run into problems. Last but not least, semantic search engines like Powerset are closer to the goal, but there is still a big hurdle in the user’s way. How do you phrase, as a user, the information you are looking for? You need to type a phrase, but it’s not that obvious what that phrase should be, making it hard and slow to search things.

Now, the big problem again is writing down what are you looking for in a way the search engine understands it. How about another approach? How about a search engine that reads your mind so that it knows what you are really looking for? Most readers must have had a good laugh with the former statement but I have to say that mind reading devices are a big reality with their own field of expertise called Brain – Machine Interfaces (BMI). Several gaming companies are already using these devices to allow their players to control virtual avatars with their minds.

And how do these devices work? Generally speaking, it’s a helmet that reads neuron impulses in several areas of your brain. In the gaming example, they read the brain areas dedicated to movement, mapping neuron firing patterns to an specific movement in the game. This technology is still giving its first steps in the commercial arena, but I’m pretty sure  we’ll see more and more devices working with it.

Now, is it a big stretch to say that we can use similar devices to read our search intentions? It is indeed, it’s something that is still out of reach. Not because of technology but because of a lack of Neuroscientific data that can be use to pinpoint which brain areas we use when searching online. But it’s just a matter of time (I’m talking about 5 to 10 years here).

Big problems with this type of search, you not only need a web index, but a neuron firing pattern index and an engine to understand them and translate that into a web search query. Another big issue is brain privacy. Your neuron firing patterns would need to be transmitted through the Internet and stored somewhere. That’s a source of major privacy concerns that should be address before using a search engine like this.

Nevertheless, and with all the problems than might arise with an idea like this, I truly think we’ll someday see something like this and I have to say it will be awesome. I don’t know if any company is currently investing in developing a mind controlled search engine, but it would be a great project for a big company like Google, IBM or Microsoft.

Do you like the nextgen search engine? What problems do you see with it? Would you use something like that?

June 16, 2008

Sick of brands

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , — Alex Barrera @ 12:29 pm

Some days ago I was looking for a place to have lunch and I ended up eating at a wok restaurant. While I was eating I realized I’m getting sick of branded restaurants, shops, etc. Small restaurants are disappearing, giving place to branded chains that popup all over the place, alas Starbucks. It’s not that I have something against a particular brand, it’s more I’m sick of having my choices reduced to a minimum.

The same applies to many other industries. In the fashion industry I’m seeing the same. Big branded chains with shops all over the place. The good thing is that some of them do understand the problem. The biggest fashion retailer of the world is Inditex, a Spanish company, who’s flag ship brand is Zara

. You have them all over the world. The bad thing about Zara is that they’ve crushed most of their competitors. The good thing, to an extend, is that not two single shops have the same type of clothes. They geo-analyze their shops and pump different types of clothes according to the local neighborhood market. Of course, this is just to a certain extent and not all clothes are different.

The solution? As Zara is doing, keep the brand, create different shops. And I’m not talking about creating different brands under the same company (Inditex has Zara, Massimo Dutti, Oysho, etc.), but about different shops within the same brand. Of course, this is VERY expensive, but it would at least give us more choices. You wouldn’t talk about Zara anymore, but about the Zara in main street, Zara in Union Square, etc.

What do you think? Is the global brand also getting on your nerves? What would you suggest?

Image credits: semaforoverde.com

June 12, 2008

Knowing your audience

Filed under: entrepreneur — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , — Alex Barrera @ 5:53 pm

Yesterday I went, as usual, to the monthly local entrepreneur meeting in Madrid called Iniciador. Rodolfo Carpintier, Spanish business angel and CEO of the only Spanish tech incubator named Digital Asset Deployment (DAD). His keynote was brilliant, some old school tips and some real pearls of wisdom.

First tip: Are you sure you need the money? I’ve personally heard this advice many times during my latest trip to Silicon Valley and I have to say I share it 100%. Sometime entrepreneurs think that it’s all about rising VC, but not all ideas need VC. Most of them don’t. Mine neither, or so I think (yet).

Second tip: Know who your audience is. This is an old one, but still worth remembering. Don’t go and pitch a VC when what you really need is seed capital. Vice versa, don’t go to ask for seed capital if what you need is $5M to start running. This is also true for entrepreneurs looking for developers, directors, etc. I had one guy come to me yesterday asking me if I wanted to be his marketing director. I respectfully decline and the incident got me thinking. Don’t go to an entrepreneur meeting looking for that profile, it’s a waste of time. Most of the people going to those meetings are looking for the same and already have their own ideas, startups, etc.

Third tip: Have a risk plan in place before going shopping. For me this was one of the best tips. It’s most often forgotten in most business plans. You need to show that even if you fail, if all hell breaks loose, you’ll still be able to return some money to investors.

There are many more tips, but I just wanted to highlight some. And excellent book for these type of tips is The Art of Start from Guy Kawasaki (still haven’t finished it yet, but I’m enjoying it very much).

Care to share some more tips?

May 28, 2008

Twitter as a marketing tool

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , , , , — Alex Barrera @ 12:21 am

It’s been twice in a week that I’ve talked with Marketing and Communication people about using Twitter for their companies and the answer has always been NO. It really strikes me, specially because both companies are part of the Tech Industry, one of them is even a well known startup.

The response I always get about Twitter is: “We don’t use it because it’s only for early adopters and geeks“. While this has been the case until very recently, Twitter is gaining critical mass at an amazing pace. Just to throw some numbers, Twitter has a daily reach of approximately 0.1% according to Alexa. That means that 0.1% of the Internet users access Twitter each day. But, that’s not the only thing, according to Biz Stone the Twitter API gets 10x that traffic, bumping Twitter’s daily reach to a very nice 1.1%. Right now it has broken the early adopter barrier and you can start seeing a more general use of it by online users. That’s the reason I think it’s the best moment to start using Twitter as a Marketing tool.

Why is Twitter a Marketing tool? Because it allows persons and/or companies the following:

a) Give a human face to the company
b) Keep your customers up to date with the latest news of the company
c) Listen to your customers feedback
d) Interact one to one with your customers
e) Keep key influencers (tech gurus, bloggers, journalists, etc.) updated about your company
f) Brand tracking

Who should use Twitter as a Marketing tool? Not everybody of course. Twitter users have a tech profile, although this profile is being widened by other online non-tech users day by day. This is something that many old school marketers don’t grasp. Everyday the digital breach between the online and offline worlds is diminishing. Currently you can see baby boomers buying food, books or flights through the Internet. You can see them chating, emailing, commenting on forums or writing blogs. Some of them are real social network junkies. Marketers have to understand that the profile of an Internet user is becoming much more general than it used to be.

So, again, who should use Twitter as a Marketing tool? I would say that it should be used by anyone with a company that is related to the tech industry. That would be websites, blogs, newspapers, software vendors, hardware vendors, musicians, … hell, everyone that can make business through the Internet. Right now that is mostly everyone!

Why are people going to adopt Twitter? It’s very easy, Twitter is Free and Simple. The sophistication level needed to use Twitter is close to 0 for any single Internet user. It’s ease of use is one of its strongest points. Also, the need to be connected and to know what is happening in other people’s lives is something inherent to humans. Humans are curious by nature, Twitter lets you be curious about other people at a never seen scale. The best proof of this are social networks like Facebook. What’s the real value of a social network? Simple, stay connected with your friends, or in plain English, know what your friends are doing. In that sense Twitter is much simpler and faster than any social network out there. In my humble opinion, it’s just a matter of time before all the social network late adopters take over Twitter.

Finally, why do I say it’s now the best moment to start using Twitter? Well, Twitter, as what happens with blogs lets you build a big audience. And the key concept here is “build”. You can’t start using Twitter and expect a relevant audience of 10.000 users following your account. Why do I say relevant? There are many Twitter users which think that if they follow many people they’ll get followed in exchange and while it’s true that this happens (byproduct of our society, people feel bad if they are being followed but they don’t follow you back), these type of users aren’t really listening. That’s why, even though you can do that, you won’t build a relevant user base. Your messages won’t be read by the users you want. The funny part of this is that the people that follow thousands of users just to get more followers, are usually so called “Marketing experts“. That’s pretty ironic if you ask me, as they should know better. So trust me when I say that building a reliable audience on Twitter takes time and good, thoughtful messages. That’s why it’s important to start now, so that when Twitter goes mainstream your company has already a good number of followers. As they say, the more number of follower you have, the faster you’ll get new ones.

Any experience with Twitter and your company? Please share it with us! Are you a Twitter user already? Follow my Twitter user http://twitter.com/abarrera

UPDATE: I found a very good hands on example of using Twitter as a Marketing tool.

May 15, 2008

Completeness, a path to creativity

Filed under: entrepreneur — Tags: , , , , , , — Alex Barrera @ 1:27 pm

Here I am again, writing this post in the plane on my way back home. Many things have happen during my visit to San Francisco that have profoundly affected me in ways I can’t yet understand. Hippies, Entrepreneurs, Tech guys, PhDs, Postdocs, MBAs, Bohemians, Students… that’s what I’ve found in the Bay Area and not many people understand me when I say that I really feel at home with them.

Most of the times I talk with someone about the Bay Area and/or Silicon Valley, I get to hear the same ol’ song: “But you have Silicon Valleys elsewhere; You can go to London, there are many tech guys there; …” and they are right. Different parts of America are starting to boil with hungry entrepreneurs, from Seattle to Boston, passing through Austin. In Toronto, London, Dublin or even in Madrid, my home town, you can find people eager to start their own company.

Problem is, that it’s just that. Just people interested on technology, programming, business administration, etc. Same people with the same mono thematic interests. Rare is the case where a developer is into writing, composing or teaching (Not saying that there aren’t though, I have the great luck to know people like that, but it’s rare to find them, at least for me. Maybe I don’t look where I should, maybe it’s that).

It’s got to a point where finding “Interesting” people is rare. As more and more people just care about money. True interesting people get diluted in a sea of “normal” people, lost, sometimes forever, out of reach for those who care to listen.

I don’t consider myself above the average. I’m an average person, not special at all, but I’m cursed with a double edge gift, and that is, curiosity. Why do I say that? Well, because curiosity can be something amazing, but at the same time is source of many frustrations. My curiosity needs to be continually fed with different things. New experiences, new fields of study, new people, new cultures, new languages, … The problem is that, feeding such a voracious gift, is very difficult and it even has it’s disadvantages. For example, such a curiosity renders any attempt to became a specialist, something pretty difficult.

Anyway, finding food for my curiosity is hard. Interesting people with interesting stories are scattered, so reaching them requires great effort and time. A time that is most precious for many of us. The Bay Area, nevertheless, works as a huge talent magnet for many persons of diverse conditions, educations, cultures and backgrounds. There isn’t, as far as I know, a place like it, in terms of interesting people. And when I speak about Interesting, I mean talented persons with a story (sometimes multiple stories) to tell. This doesn’t necessarily means that they need to have a PhD or be a graduate. Sometimes the most interesting experiences you find them in the streets from people with little or no education whatsoever. The point is that, I haven’t seen such an intellectually fertile place like the Bay Area in my whole life (Again, there are, for sure, places like this that I haven’t heard of, so please, if you know them, tell me about them!). What I discovered time ago, and well, I rediscovered during this trip, is that inspiration arises, most of the time, when interacting with these type of Interesting persons, and as like in a domino game, inspiration brings creativity.

The big problem I find with many people is that they are incomplete. Incomplete is a strong word to use, and I know that many people might disagree with me because as always, personal opinions are, well, personal and strongly subjective, so please keep that in mind. Most people are only interested on one or two things in life, being money and wealth one of the most common of them. They don’t care about their jobs, they don’t care about music, they don’t care about books, they don’t care about nature, and after all, why should they, no? What I’ve found is that, creative people that care about many things, are much more able to see the “big picture” everywhere. They are capable of building bridges in places where everyone else just sees dust. This is specially important for entrepreneurs if you ask me. Curiosity isn’t only something that allows people to see “further”, I truly think it enriches our soul and that at the end, when money and wealth don’t matter anymore, you are left alone with your experiences, your ideas and your ghosts.

Being curious about what surrounds us might be something you born with, although I sometimes think you can learn it with time, either way, just think, stop and think about what we tend to disregard on a daily basis. Meet new people, travel, experiment new things, hopefully you’ll get infected with the curiosity virus which will eventually enrich you as a person and as a professional, enabling you to foresee and envision what other can barely grasp.

Sorry for this extremely long diatribe full of my philosophic thoughts. Having recently experienced this enrichment at multiple levels, I thought it was worth trying to describe what I felt and specially WHY I feel the way I do about the Bay Area and its people. After all, there is much more than our jobs out there and it’s just ready for us to get it.

Images credits: Villa Sams

April 8, 2008

Free as in Virus

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , — Alex Barrera @ 11:08 pm

I am writing this post as I’m flying over Tulsa on my way to San Francisco. This is my 10th hour of flight and I just realized something that many might think is stupid. During my transoceanic flight from Madrid to Atlanta I had free movies on board. The same goes for free earphones, free peanuts, free drinks or free cookies during the flight. While waiting for my connection at Atlanta I tried to use the airport’s wifi but, as I expected, you had to pay $7.50 for a 24h connection. On my current flight you have to pay to watch any movie ($6), you have to pay $2 to get some earphones and you have to pay if you want to eat some miserable cookies (you guessed, I didn’t pay for anything). Suddenly something has stricken me pretty hard and I know I’ve discussed this issue with some people (Say hi to Mark Evans!).
I’m so used to free services that I expect everything to be free. And mind me, that’s just wrong, very wrong. I just realized how wrong I am. $7.50 for a 24h Internet connection is very cheap for International Standards (specially if you have Euros as I do).

The problem here isn’t that some products are free of charge, the problem arises when you expect “everything” to be free. There are always exceptions to this, like the case of wifi at hotels. I still don’t get why after spending $150 per night in a hotel I don’t have free wifi. I truly believe wifi is accounted in the high price I pay for the room, but surprise, every single time I ask for wifi I have to pay some really expensive pluses.

Anyhow, many other things really deserve to be paid for. I do have a problem, I’ve never paid for a software product (ok, ok, Microsoft licenses maybe). As a programmer, anytime I needed something I tried to find a free alternative and/or code the extra functionality I needed. Although this is a cool way to save money, it does takes you much more time an effort. Not only that, most probably you won’t code a better software in just a couple of hours.

And so back to my point, I realized that I have to start learning to pay for services I use and like. My question is this: Is this the general evolution of market perception? Am I the only one realizing that an exclusive freemium world mentality is unsustainable? Will more people start realizing this and start shifting to pay per use models?

Now, more interestingly, what are the conditions a pay-per-use model needs to have to be used by a fairly large segment of a market? In my opinion, it needs to deliver two things:

  1. Create more value than their competitor’s free services (no surprise here)
  2. Get the users to understand why they should pay you for your service.

We need to really start stressing the importance of paid services as we do a horrible job at it. First of all, the value – price relation MUST be fair. Too expensive and users wont pay it, even if they like your product. Too few value and users won’t understand why they should pay you either. These concepts seem rather trivial but I have the feeling we should go back to basics with this issue.

Now that I think about it, I truly wonder if this business model is even valid anymore. Either we go back to basics with a new breed of paid models or we find a way to indirectly cash in thousands of users. Either way, I predict that true free services will die (except those that are under the umbrella of a company that can accept the looses). If that ever happens, I wonder if people will go back to paid services. You know, history is cyclic, maybe it’s time to get back to the “old” revenue model but with a nice 3.0 twist.

Now some questions for all the readers, under what circumstances would you pay for an online service? Would you consider a monthly fee, anual fee or a per usage fee? Any ideas and comments are greatly appreciated!

April 3, 2008

Next stop: San Francisco, CA

Filed under: entrepreneur — Tags: , , , , — Alex Barrera @ 3:48 pm

Many people already know about it but next Monday I’m flying to San Francisco for 10 days. I’ll be there from April 7th (plane arrives at 7:17pm) to April 17th (8am). I have several meetings during those days, even a guest lecture at UC Berkeley but my idea is to try and meet entrepreneurs, business angels, bloggers, etc that are either living there or just happened to be there 🙂

So if you are from SF or are coming to the city during those dates don’t hesitate to send me an email or a Tweet. My email is abarrera at inkzee dot com and for the twitter lovers: http://twitter.com/abarrera (by the way today I reached the 100 followers mark. Come one people, lets push it to the 150 mark!).

I’ll eventually upload some pictures of the trip and keep the blog updated. Sorry for the blackout of the last weeks, I’ve been really busy with my startup (yeah you guessed, inkzee.com) and writing down something that resembles a business plan. Oh, I’ll also be giving some demos of my startup at SF, so you should come to see it.

We’ve scheduled some meetings with the people from Hacker News in SF. Check out the details here:

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=144632

Dates and places: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14495

Why forcing an entrepreneur into a big company is a mistake

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , , , — Alex Barrera @ 3:16 pm

Lately I’ve been hearing many negative comments about creating startups and being an entrepreneur. Most of them can be reduced to: “You should work for a big, well know company and after several years you can go and start you own“. In my experience this idea is pretty widespread. I’ve heard it from my father, from my friends, from friends of friends, etc. The problem with it is that, ALL the persons that express this idea have a common characteristic: they are conservative.

The idea that working in a big company you have better odds of creating a successful startup is bullshit. There are no statistics for that. Even more, people like Paul Graham from Y Combinator recently wrote an essay precisely about this same issue:

We’ve now funded so many different types of founders that we have enough data to see patterns, and there seems to be no benefit from working for a big company. The people who’ve worked for a few years do seem better than the ones straight out of college, but only because they’re that much older.

463px-movie_poster_the_corporation.jpg

The three most common benefits I keep hearing about working in a big company are the following:

  • At a big company you’ll have the chance to get high profile contacts that might aid you when you go and create your own startup.

Contacts are of great help, everyone knows that by now, nevertheless, the idea that you’ll haveexecutive-talent.jpg better and more contacts working in a big company has no ground. First of all, to contact truly influential persons is, in general, way beyond a normal worker. You’ll need several years to reach a status within a company to get access to the management team or high profile executives. I’m pretty sure Apple employees can’t phone Steve Jobs or mail him at any time with total freedom. Even if this isn’t true (there are always exceptions), the psychological perception for many top executives is that they are better and you are worse, that they belong to the executive class and you don’t. This means that even if you can reach them, you won’t be seen as an equal and the true advantage of recommendations et al. will be diminished. Of course, there are always special cases, but we probably wouldn’t be talking about a BIG company then.

Secondly, contacts within a same company are pretty much endogamic. This means that, if you work as a beta tester, most of your friends and coworkers will be related to the beta testing environment. Reaching interesting and influential persons in other fields is much more difficult.

Finally, the rate at which you contact new people is determined by external factors like thewaiting4raise.jpg number of people in your department or how frequently you engage with other departments or clients. If we throw some numbers we get a glimpse of the big difference. I usually go to a couple of entrepreneur meetings per month. In average I meet 2 persons of interest for my startup at each meeting. That makes 4 good contacts each month. In the software industry (my field), projects usually take between 2 to 6 months on average (even more if it’s a huge project in a big company). During that period and if you are lucky you’ll meet an average of 3 persons (which might not even be good contacts) at the client. That means that for a 6 month project you’ll only meet 3 new persons and probably only 1 or even none will be of interest to you. Check that against 15-20 interesting persons in a 6 month period by yourself (and no, you can’t go to many entrepreneur meetings if you work at a big company). Although this estimates will also go down if you keep meeting with the same persons, it’s clear which rate is better. Please, as usual, takes these numbers with caution, they are very gross estimates and there are always exceptions.

  • Working in a big company you’ll get the change to work or see really big projects that employ huge resources. This vision will help you when working on your startup.

Nobody disagrees that you acquire very interesting experiences while working for a big company. Specially if you work with large teams. The problem is that when building a startup you won’t be managing huge teams or resources, you won’t (normally) need real-time critical systems either. You won’t even deal with a lot of clients at first. So, even though it’s a plus if you have the experience, it’s not critical, as a startup is NOT a big company.

  • Working in a big company will give you a good resume and it will be easier for you to find investors.

Good resumes are always good things. Specially if umbrella.jpgyou approach investors, your team’s resumes must be great. The problem is that many persons don’t differentiate between the team and the founders. An investor isn’t looking for a top notch programmer founder, they are looking for people with experience setting up companies, growing companies, selling companies. They are looking for people with a track record of not wasting money in useless things. They are looking for a true leader that is able to get the best out of his team. If you are also a top notch programmer then be it so. Working at a big company won’t get you more money from investors. VCs that invest on people only because they are ex-googlers or ex-yahoos are wrong and they’ll pay for it. That it’s harder to find investment if it’s your first time and you haven’t been working at a known company, true. Impossible to do it, false. Actually, most of the investments I see are to founders with not experience in big companies, just take a look at Apple, Microsoft, Google, etc.

So, in conclusion, from my point of view, there isn’t any competitive advantage in working on a big company. Actually for me it’s the opposite. Two years of inferno, with a tight leash around your creativity and without the freedom you’ve got in a startup. Worst of all is that the environment affects you in a negative way and it takes a while to get used to breath again. Finally, the years after graduation are the best to play the high risk game of creating a startup as people haven’t got so many financial debts (a house, a family, etc.). Wasting those precious years in a restrictive environment instead of changing the world is wrong.

Choose what YOU want and follow your gut. If you don’t feel comfortable at a company, take the time to think about what you really want. And most of all, don’t listen to those that try to project their own insecurity on to you, as that will only block your true feelings.

startup.jpg

As usual, everyone is invited to drop a comment. I would love to read what other entrepreneurs or big company guys think about this. It would be interesting to have a VC or an angel to comment on this issue as well.

Images: leakyfaucet.wordpress.com, legendsofhorror.org, lifedynamix.com, synergy.ralf.netmindz.net, interbgr.com

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