Grab your friends and get that awesome start-up “STARTED”!
I think we live in an awesome era.
When I started my first software company back in 1997, the road to developing a piece of software was long and hard (but certainly not as hard as the enlightened ones who embarked this journey before me). The Internet simply wasn't as powerful and comprehensive as it is today. In fact, I used to spend days going through the Yahoo web directory to learn about Visual Basic, C++ and all that wonderful jazz. Trying to learn a new tool or technology usually meant going on exciting bus trips with my dad to the local used book stores. Those were the days.
Today is awesome. The Internet evolved to a knowledge tool that proves to be much more powerful than the Encyclopaedia can ever hope to be.
This also brings me to the point of this article.
If you have an idea, grab your friends and get that start-up “started”!
Have a cool idea in mind? Or maybe something that you wish there is an existing solution for, but that the market does not currently offer? Grab your friends and start something! I can only speak from a software/website business standpoint, as those have been my primary areas of focus for a majority of my career. But honestly, the cost of entry (and in most cases, the cost of failure as well) is so low that the potential return, whether it is the experience of starting something that you can call your own, the experience of architect a complete solution from the ground up, the experience of promoting the product, the professional network that you develop as part of the process, or the potential monetary reward that can result as an outcome of the effort far outweighs the cost of developing and devoting time to the business.
I don’t have the technical and business expertise
Expertise is something that can be acquired. As long as you have a passion for it, the Internet offers you a wealth of information on:
- Technical development (i.e. software development, database design, website development)
- Business development (i.e. strategy, elevator pitch, financing, growing your start-up)
- Marketing and promotion
- Time management
- Presentation techniques
I graduated from the University of Toronto with a Business degree. If I can program, so can you.
I don’t have the money
In the old days, most of the IDEs, tools and third party libraries costed money. There was no GitHub, StackOverflow or the vast array of open source libraries that the kind souls today have decided to make available to other developers for the good of humanity.
In my latest start-up, Babble!, an anonymous and proximity-based social network for the Android platform:
- We developed the app with the free Android Studio, utilizing a couple of open source libraries from talented folks around the world on an older Intel i3 desktop.
- The web service was developed on a $7.95/month web hosting plan that also serves the company domain ($9.99/year), the product pages and the email accounts for the company.
- We used BitBucket as our Git code management platform.
- The production web service is deployed to the Cloud, which doesn't cost any money unless people actually use the service. Some providers even offer free credits for first-time Cloud customers, or customers do fall below a certain usage rate.
- The graphics that you see on http://www.babble.today were all taken by your truly with an entry level DSLR. If my memory serves me right, it was my trusty Canon Rebel XS.
- The explainer animation was made with the GoAnimate platform, which is available at as low as $39/month for an unlimited number of videos.
- Not counting the mountains of bubble teas (substitute these with coffee or cases of beer) that accompanied us into the late nights during our development cycle, these represented the majority of the tangible cost of the start-up up to this point in time.
I don’t have the time
If you are passionate about something, you can and will MAKE time for it. Think about your hobby and how you can magically put aside some amount of time a day to attend to it. I am not the busiest person in the world, but I work a full-time job, I have a side business, I take freelance jobs as the Director of Photography on different film sets and I have a 10-month old baby who also happens to be the most outspoken person in the entire family. In a team of two, my co-founder, who also has a day time job and I developed Babble! from the ground up in 4 months. Between coming up with storyboards for commercials, working my day time job, and diaper changing, I can truthfully say I enjoyed every moment of those 4 months.
I don’t want to fail
What’s failure? Your app not getting the downloads that you anticipated? Your needing to close down your business because of cost and other factors? Think about the people that benefited from your creation during its availability. How your start-up experience has helped you grow as a person and as a professional? How the journey will help you build the next great product?
It is you, above everyone else, who had the vision, the passion, the energy and the courage to start something of your own. These are the characteristics of a person who can change the world, not a failure.
My idea is too crazy
Crazy can be good; it can be great. Consider this: Albert Einstein was once called crazy for his theory of relativity.
And hey, and if you need to break out of the norm and not follow best practices, so be it.
Facebook, Twitter, Uber and most other innovative and influential companies today did not get to where they are today by following some tried and old best practices.
After all, it’s your awesome company and your call :)
So what do all of these lead to?