There are a few people at work I enjoy having conversation with, and one of them is a software engineer with a lot of interest in marketing and starting a company.
One day he and I had a discussion about high-tech marketing strategies. I gave examples and principles from books I have read like Crossing the Chasm, Inside the Tornado, and Innovator’s Dilemma. But, he basically discarded them as garbage and they are all just after-the-facts, trying to explain what made companies successful. Hindsight is always 20-20, and it is easy to justify actions after success. I try very hard to make counter his points, but it didn’t fly.
The truth is that he was right. None of the authors – neither Geoffrey Moore and Clayton Christensen – has ever run a successful company. Also, so many successful companies in the valley have been accidental success. Look no further than Google. Larry Page and Sergey Brin never wanted to start a company. After successful prototype, they just wanted to sell the technology. Nobody including Yahoo wanted to buy the technology. Everyone thought search market was mature enough with no room for new player. They sat on a $100,000 check made out to “Google, Inc.” from Andy Bechtolsheim, mulling over whether to start a company or not. The same with Craig Newman from Craigslist.org, which is arguably one of the most visited websites in the world. He started out by managing a bunch of mailing lists, which was a pain and took a lot of his time. He wanted a better way to manage the mailing lists, and that’s how Craigslist.org was born. Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook never intended to create a company of current Facebook. He just wanted to find a way to see who’s who in his freshman class, and that’s how Facebook started. Similar stories exist for other companies like eBay and Paypal. Have they all followed the strategies and tactics laid out in marketing books? I am not sure. But, it is surely easy to tell the world – after such huge success – why certain actions taken at the time were so brilliant. But, who knows at the time it was motivated entirely differently?
In addition, most successful start-ups happened to be started by engineers, not marketing-types. From HP to Cisco, Sun Microsystems, Yahoo, and Google, all of them were founded by engineers.
Guy Kawasaki from Garage Technology Ventures said that one common mistake an entrepreneur makes is writing a business plan first. Instead, he or she should start building service or product and starting selling them first. It’s utmost important to get customer feedback as soon as possible. By incorporating customer feedback and improving service or product, the entrepreneur could build his/her business. If more capital is required for further growth, it’s much easier to raise funding with proven business model.
So, to my fellow entrepreneurs, JUST DO IT!