Startups require a pretty reasonable–and short–list of things, but they’re really really hard to come by.
- A co-founder you can depend on.
These all come back to one key point: Provide value and you will win.
If you listen to Hacker News, it’s easy to get these days. I don’t think that’s true. I haven’t done any fund raising, but I’m about to start, and it appears to be way harder than people make it out to be. I had the privilege of seeing a founder just off the road from raising a huge series B give a talk about his experience and jesus I wouldn’t wish that on anyone!
If you provide value to people, though, money should be easy to come by. You prove you provide value by showing traction. Traction begets money, assuming you have a reasonable way to monetize that traction (or sometimes not so reasonable, even).
Can you see yourself working on your project–whatever it is–for the next five years? Seriously, think about that for a moment. Five years is a long time, especially if you have only been working on your weird idea for three weeks.
Not to toot my own horn, but I’ve turned down six-figure jobs in recent months to work on Revisu (ironically I get these six-figure offers because I’ve started Revisu). If you’re dedicated to your project, you’ll be constantly searching for ways to provide value to people, because providing value breeds traction which begets money.
Another unfortunate facet of the modern startup world is the notion that startups start and succeed (or start and fail) on such an accelerated time frame. To a certain degree, you can “validate” (for some definition of the word) a start up idea or market quickly, and you can make some cash pretty quickly with a prototype.
The reality is that most startups don’t get anywhere any time fast. Even at PIE, a lot of the startups are just barely off the ground. But, we have wobbles of hope. We have a plan to get off the ground. That plan takes engagement, validation, and hustle. It takes time. Time to prove value, which will breed traction, which will beget money.
Patience is the effective use of time. Patience is especially necessary when you read about everyone around you making it while you’re still struggling. If you’re diligent, smart (read: providing value to your customers), and patient, you’ll get there eventually.
A well known entrepreneur told me the other day that be believes that any reasonably smart person can find money in any market if they push hard enough, and I really trust his opinion. So, be patient, stay hungry, and with time you’ll find a way to provide value, which will breed traction, and beget you money.
A co-founder you can depend on
Everyone is searching for a co-founder. Good entrepreneurs are searching for co-founders even when they have co-founders. Business folks are searching for technical co-founders, and technical folks are searching for business co-founders. It’s a difficult proposition, but the only thing more difficult is progressing without one.
Without a co-founder you can depend on, you have nothing. Starting a startup is literally the most difficult thing a participant in the tech industry can do, and most people just can’t go it alone.
At some point, after you find a co-founder, you’re going to hate them. You’ll feel like you can do it alone and you don’t need them. You’ll feel like they’re not pulling their weight. You’ll feel like you can do the things they do. Maybe that’s true, but it’s probably not. The most important thing: Keep your collective eye on providing value to your users. Providing value will breed traction, and beget money.