Monday, December 22, 2008

The Ghost of Startup Past

Well, as of last week, I have reached the formal dissolution of my very first startup. We met and signed some paperwork that says we all agree that we no longer exist, and to reallocate our shared resources. I found it so fitting that the end of this startup was so well organized. I think that this startup was interesting because we had all the organizational stuff down pat, operating agreements, etc. What we didn't have was the compelling product strategy and drive. So often, reading blogs of other startup folks, it's the exact opposite. This time around, I plan to spend 99% of my time on WHAT MATTERS. I must admit it felt good to be legit, and being incorporated and all that jazz gave me a false sense of accomplishment. I am now a year or two older (wiser too, hopefully?), and I am much more concerned with brass tacks.

The other big problem I faced last time personally was the unrelenting desire to build cool stuff. To build stuff from scratch, and to not rely on conventions or libraries. I think I have grown over the past couple of years as a developer, to the point where I am much more confident in my ability to get things done. I know I can build things if I need to. Therefore, the choice not to write cool software things is much easier to make. Now I want to build a product. If this means that I take something that's already built, and add value to it by focusing on FUNCTIONALITY. I want to create value for the user, and not create nerd brownie points for myself. Sourceforge is littered with projects that were the result of geeks trying to put a feather in their cap and some new acronyms on their resume. These projects are out on Sourceforge now because they couldn't sell them, in many cases.

To that end, I vow to not be 'cool' technically. Rather, I plan to be "functionally benevolent". I will ask people what they want, and build it as simply as possible. There are some wonderful building blocks out there, and I am going to use them. Let's hope that this all leads to some success in the new year.
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