Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Next Crop of Web Startups

I recently attended Start - A Conference for Entrepreneurs held at the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco.

The conference was sold out and no wonder. Luminaries from Twitter and WordPress were there. Founders from 43 Folders, 500 Hats, and Wesabe had some great advice for young, budding entrepreneurs. You can read more about my take on the speakers here. It's the attendees that I want to point your attention to now. I met an Information Architect, a .NET consultant (rare amongst this tribe as Microsoft doesn't have a good hold on the web startup world), a marketing VP for the next killer in box app, an engineer for a social networking site devoted to reading books, and the CEO for a web site devoted to young children.

It's all about finding a niche and filling it. For a phenomena as highly democratic as the web, that means finding a market with an unfulfilled need and filling it. These people are passionate about what they want to do but it's a kind of passion that is all about sensitivity and listening to the market.

If what you are doing isn't working, then throw it away and start over. I don't mean give up. Be persistent but be persistent about what counts which is not the script you're currently working on. One of the attendees called it failing fast. Don't clutch on to your current attempt. If you do and if it's not right, then you'll burn out trying to make it work. Instead, keep looking for new ways until you find the one that works. Everything changes over time so, eventually, what works will stop working.

Flexibility, sensitivity, and agility are the keys to sustainable success. That was the message of this conference and that is my message when it comes to developing software which is my passion.

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