Thursday, October 1, 2009

GHC09: Have You Ever Considered Being an Entrepreneur?

I'm going to try doing this post a little differently. I'm recording information during the actual session instead of taking notes and writing it up later. Below I have the introductions of the panelists, some general session notes, and a few of the audience questions.

Sandy Jen, Meebo
  • First job after graduation had cubicle walls. She was short and walls were really tall!
  • Worked on own ideas after working a regular 8-5 day.
  • Got funding after launching.
Shaherose Charania, Women 2.0
  • Two lives: During the day, working on mobile start-ups; at night, help run Women 2.0.
  • Women 2.0 helps women launch start-ups via networking, workshops, competitions, etc.
  • Grew up in Canada, travelled back and forth to Pakistan. Helped her see how much she had living in Canada. Technology is one thing that's missing in places like Pakistan.
  • Thought she wanted to code but found out otherwise in first course with JavaScript. Took business to be able to work with engineers instead.
  • Interviewed at Google after graduation. Saw Silicon Valley for first time. Didn't get Google job, but came to Silicon Valley anyway.
Meghan Casey, Squidoo
  • It's not about what you've already done or the failures you've had - it's about what you want to do next.
  • Don't over plan and see what interesting bumps come along on the way.
  • Liberal arts snob in undergrad.
  • Worked at Random House book publishing.
  • Found someone also interested in the idea of spreading ideas while editing his book. Started Squidoo.
  • Wants us to realize what a cool moment we're in, and to just pick something and start doing it (don't spend too much time researching, etc!).
General Session Tid-Bits
  • Social startups are a current trend (where social is code for non-profit).
  • Biggest question: I have this idea. How do I make it happen?
  • Get the feeling that you can make things better.
  • In tech, you can choose ideas that don't cost a lot of money up front (especially on web). Sandy used her own money to start Meebo, making it her baby (and making cost-cutting decisions easier).
  • Lately, the start-ups that have made it got funding from friends and family they trust rather than venture capitalist money. Start making money with ads and freemium models.
  • Don't ask for permission to execute your idea when asking for money. Be frank that it might fail in a year.
  • Share your idea and get feedback. Others will have the same idea, but will approach it differently, so you don't have to keep it to yourself.
  • Passion: You see an opportunity really clearly, and you'd feel really bummed if you missed it. Helping people and enabling people. Gives you that internal energy that nobody else can give you.
Audience Questions

How can I find the right people to become co-founders, stock holders, etc?
  • Look for people who want the experience and the celebrity status.
  • Being in the right environment can help a lot. E.g. Silicon Valley is ripe with technologists.
  • Check entrepreneurial resources.
  • Go to Elance.
How do you know when your idea is good enough to bring to a market that already has an implementation of the same idea?
  • You can't know. But that doesn't make your idea invalid.
  • "No point in trying to out-Google Google." If the other people fill every need you ever had and you're envious of it... you probably don't need to add to the market.
How do you get support for your business without having others steal your idea.
  • The idea itself should never be a secret. The idea might be the same but the implementation different.
  • Those you tell haven't gone through the evolution you have, so you're most likely to do it better.


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