Everyone understands that there is a big element of luck involved in doing a startup. And it makes little sense financially and logically to do this. Entrepreneurship is a decision of passion. Driven from the need to go through the experience of building something from scratch, of learning and growing new muscles.
I am busy doing so for the past few months, and boy, has it been a heck of a learning experience. For all the roles I have done and the products (good and bad) that I may have built, the last few months have tested our acumen, our product instincts and our Go-to-market thought process to the hilt.
Especially the GTM. Product guys will always figure out the core product. But I would not touch an idea unless I can be hopeful about the GTM strategy.
In summary, the learning so far has been:
- You can be executive of whatever in your past life. You are back to the ground floor when starting up
- The only way to learn how to startup is to startup
- Be brazen enough to believe you can build anything. But humble enough to realize there will be a lot of luck along the way
- Focus on what is out of your control way more than what is in (your control) while deciding the idea. The latter you will sort out over time. The former will kill you
- Once you commit to an idea, feel free to reverse the last point
- Spend a lot of time on GTM. For consumer products, with users. For enterprise, with customer
- Customers will not only drive how you approach GTM, they will also help you figure out the product
- Don’t make leaps of faith on unit economics, size of market and did I already say GTM :)? That kind of risk will… you guessed it, kill you
- The biggest decision you will take is to pick a co-founder. That is literally a marriage. Be as picky and then work hard on that relationship
- Be very thoughtful and deliberate about the cap table. Even if its logical and obvious, its worth a deep conversation
- Pick your investors and backers wisely. Everyone of them should add value beyond the money
- Do a temperature check at regular intervals. Are you happy with the chaos, having no consistent income, grappling with ambiguities, and forging something literally from scratch? If no, then its ok to rethink this path
There is a lot more, but these are some thoughts that come to mind.
Good news is that I have a great partner, we are making progress, building a team, and learning a ton. I feel like I have a new career and possibly a shot at reinventing myself. And whether we fail or succeed, that reinvention will be a win.