Caterina Fake has a peculiar list of reasons why starting a company today is a bad idea. I say it's never been a better time to start a business. You know, the kind that develops a product or service and asks money for it.
Yes, it's a bad time to start a company on VC diesel, using me-too technology, flaunting your non-existing goods, doing tagging because it's cool, and spending all your time partying. Guess what? That was never a good idea.
I know we've been beating many of these drums to death, but here goes a recap of six reasons why you should start a business today:
- You don't need VC diesel to get your motor running. Working nights or putting money aside to run full-time for three months is enough to get off the ground if you have a great idea and enough passion to make it matter.
- You can actually charge money for valuable services. People have never been more willing to part with their credit cards to pay for services that improve their business or their life. You don't need to spend aeons and cumbaja meetings pondering HOW TO MONITIZE?! when all you need is a service worth paying for.
- You don't need mainstream tech to make a dent. No wonder you have a hard time finding people if you're only looking at the mainstream tech circles. You're competing for talent with all the risk-averse insurance companies of the world. We picked Ruby early and used Rails to get access to the cream of the crop. People bustling with passion to develop using tools they love.
- You don't need to live in San Francisco to make it big. Or rather, if you want to make it big, don't live in San Francisco. You'll get sucked in to the myths (you need VC!) and drowned by the parties. Most of the worlds talent does not live in that tiny spot of land. I developed the Basecamp, Backpack, Tada List, and Writeboard from Copenhagen, Denmark. And we have one of the greatest developers I've ever met in Provo, Utah. While the rest of the company is in Chicago and New York. The Rails core team includes people from Germany, Canada, Austria, and all over the US.
- You don't need a swarm of worker bees to take off. Of course its hard to find 10 or 20 great people by tomorrow, but you don't have to. We're entering a golden age of small teams capable of doing big things. Just get a band of three together and you're good to go for v1. Using modern tools and simply doing less software means that having more people is likely to slow you down rather than speed you up.
Thus, I believe it has never been easier to build a great business for the web, if your intentions are to simply be profitable and please a constituency of passionate users.
But yes, I agree with Fake that its getting harder to create a company with the intents to play the Web 2.0 Lottery. There can only be so many winners and if you're relying on Google or Yahoo to buy you out, you might want to pick a coupon for the powerball while you're at it. [Signal vs. Noise]