Rules For Startups & Evaluating a New Idea

First up we have TechCunch’s Loic Le Meur’s Ten Rules For Startup Success (which I had written up but not posted) which had a number of points (10 actually) :

● 1 Don’t wait for a revolutionary idea.● 2 Share your idea. ● 3 Build a community.● 4 Listen to your community.● 5 Gather a great team.● 6 Be the first to recognize a problem.● 7 Don’t spend time on market research.● 8 Don’t obsess over spreadsheet business plans. ● 9 Don’t plan a big marketing effort.● 10 Focus on your users.

I would lump 2, 3, 4, and 6 under one item aka the ClueTrain Manifesto “Markets are conversations” rule. i.e. talk and listen. Items 1, 7, 8 and 9 are really all the same thing : make it good / different enough ; make your mistakes early (and cheap) ; adjust according to what works; Item 10 is gold.

Loic’s new startup is Seesmic (closed Beta) and there Community is a Loic TV, and his own blog.

So, now we have Loren Feldman ripping them a hole as only he can (via Tech Crunch), in his funny accent. Loren makes some valid comments in his usual funny and very colourful style.

Nobody said that all the “conversations” where going to be happy ones.

We also have “Will it fly? How to Evaluate a New Product Idea” from Evan Williams (of Blogger, Odeo and Twitter fame) making some very good points : Tractability; Obviousness ; Deepness; Wideness; Discoverability; Monetizability; Personally Compelling.Be prepare to address these points in your gut and figure how your going to resolve them. You need to scoring high, for at least a well defined niche, for >50% of these. (Otherwise, without a huge possible “Monetizabilty”, or even with, the opportunity is not -yet- ripe. Wait a cycle to re-evaluate.)

Evan’s “Personally Compelling” is a key point in that if your not obsessed (and or passionate about ) about the product area you are not going to hang in there the first time someone makes fun of you (see above, Loren), or do the hard work. Being “obsessed” can be a good substitute for more traditional “market research”. “Discoverability” can replace a big (expensive) marketing effort. Deepness & Wideness addresses the question “is this a product or a feature”. Tractability is about “how long do I live on Ramen” (or KD or pb&j sandwiches – pick your poison). Obviousness is about can your sell it in an elevator pitch to your target users?

It is also worth re-reading Tim Bray’s Message From the Web (Centralization is a bug; Good-enough today beats complete next year; Getting started should be free. Convince the developers. Management will go along. Try to lock them in and they’ll walk away ·Some popular tools will be Open Source ·To make money, give things away (”Monetization at the point of value.”), and the reaction, in light of the above.

So use Evan’s taste test, Listen to the web’s Message, and get that Startup out and ruling (and then show it at DemoCamp!).

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