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"Cool ideas are useless without great needs." ~@precipice

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Marc Hedlund wrote a set of entrepreneur proverbs five years ago that feel timeless.

Here are my five favorites:

Momentum builds on itself -- just start. Do whatever you can. Draw a user interface. Write a spec. Make something, anything, that people can see and touch and try. A prototype is worth ten thousand words. Once you start moving, you will find that people start to carry you along.

If you keep your secrets from the market, the market will keep its secrets from you -- entrepreneurs too often worry about keeping their brilliant secrets locked away; we should all worry much more about springing a surprise on a disinterested market (anyone remember the Segway?). To quote Howard Aiken: "Don't worry about people stealing an idea. If it's original, you will have to ram it down their throats."

Work only with people you like and believe in -- I once heard Eric Schmidt say something along the lines of,

"The older I get, the more I think all that matters is working with people you like."

If you're smart and talented, you're probably going to like a lot of smart and talented people. Working with people you like is so much more fun, and often more productive, than fighting against someone who may be smart and talented but just isn't a great fit for you.

Cool ideas are useless without great needs -- this is the classic engineers' entrepreneurial mistake (or at least I'd like to think so, since I've made it). Techies love tech, and a new technology can produce a lot of companies that don't really meet a need. Better to start with the need, and then see how what you know can produce a better answer to that need. (Marketers tend to have the opposite problem: real, pressing needs with completely unworkable solutions.)

The best way to get investment is not to need it -- if you have a running business with real customers and you're paying all your bills, you are much more likely to get a funding round than if you need the round in order to survive or succeed. The pitch that goes, "We could accelerate our growth with more money" is much more compelling than, "I need your money or our doors will close."

For more, see:

For what it's worth, I keep returning to #startuptriplets, too.


So, since I can't comment on 106 I'll comment here. What I've found in Silicon Valley is that there are a lot of diametrically opposite opinions. In earlier 106 post, someone referenced this post: "When Mike asked Leone for advice for his recently launched CrunchFund (in which Sequoia is an LP), Leone indicated he may have some learning to do. In Leone’s view, startups have two advantages: stealth and speed. But Mike comes from a world (TechCrunch) where speed is important but there is no stealth. He said Mike would have to learn to advise startups to “avoid cocktail hour” and stay away from press." vs. the context for this post: "If you keep your secrets from the market, the market will keep its secrets from you." It reminds me how Aston Motes and the Dropbox team were coy about how amazing their company was...until 'surprise! we have 25 million users." I'm pretty sure their last reported number had been 3 million. Would love to hear your thoughts Adam Rifkin.

David, although Dropbox might have withheld how much they were used, they certainly weren't shy about telling anybody and everybody what Dropbox is and why it's awesome and why everyone should use it.

Btw, here's the URL of the earlier 106 Miles post:

Also btw, we figured out why our Facebook Connect buttons are failing to authenticate you -- the API's we used to build it have now been deprecated, so we're implementing Facebook's new OAuth 2.0 APIs. Those should be ready soon.

So it still stands, "be as open as possible." :)

Yes. An open mind gathers no moss.

all of this lovely Adam...

Thanks Adam!! This is going to help when I start putting my idea into play!

Zen Koans are useful when putting your idea into play.

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