Saturday, March 08, 2008

Building a Startup

Successful web entrepreneur Jason Calacanis wrote a recent note on his blog about what it takes to build a startup that has even the remotest chance of surviving. In doing so, he generated a firestorm. As Michael Arrington, founder of TechCruch points out, it comes down to two basic requirements: you have to hire the right people and you have to watch every penny. I think both posts are a must read even if you're in China.

I think being at a start up - or small organization, or even as part of a highly leveraged buyout is similar - limited resources help to quickly prioritize and clarify what is important or else you fail. I personally think of my business and those like mine as not being too unlike many tech businesses in that we are tools for other businesses to improve productivity and competitiveness. But getting started isn't easy. It's far better to ask for more money than you think you need because you'll likely end up needing anyway - along the same lines of thought, it's not a bad idea to try to maintain a certain cash reserve for emergencies or to survive and keep valued resources during slower periods.

When it comes to Asia and specifically China, it's a bit different and I think hiring the right people becomes even more important. Displays of wealth seem to be ever more important than here in West. Not everyone will understand why they can't get that raise or recognize what the problem is with clocking out at 5 or 6 pm on the dot - given family pressures, and seeing wages continually on the uptick for classmates, and what has only until recently been a more parochial attitude taken by many firms. But I think you can find them. I'm intensely proud and also protective of the team we've built. We're far from perfect, but for the most part, we are almost always trying to work to get there and do right by our clients.

Update 08.03.13: TechCruch linked to another pretty good but older post on succeeding at a startup.

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