Most entrepreneur do not get their first project to be a success
The road to success is paved with Failures. The first idea people have is very rarely the one that will take off. When you look closer, most of what seem like overnight success is in reality the result of many prior failed attempts.
Evan Spiegel founder of Snapchat first co-founded during summer 2010 an app called “Future Freshman” just after the completed his sophomore. The app was designed to help kids get into college. It completely failed. He worked on it for about a year, he and his co-founder Murphy decided to pull the plug because… no one was using it.
Spiegel did not give up on his dream of building the next tech behemoth and finally build Snap, who came to be a $20 billion company.
Few people know it, but Twitter was born from Odeo, a Podcast service that Evan Willians (co-founder of Blogger, Twitter, and Middle) had founded after they sold Blogger. After building Odeo, the team realized that in fact they were not listening to as much podcast as they thought. And then in 2005, Apple announces that iTunes will integreate a podcasting platform, as Odeo intended to do. It was during a hackathon organized by Evan to "explore new directions" that the idea of Twitter came into being. Twitter was born out of a failure.
(...) in fact startups do have a different sort of DNA from other businesses. Google is not just a barbershop whose founders were unusually lucky and hard-working. Google was different from the beginning.
To grow rapidly, you need to make something you can sell to a big market. That's the difference between Google and a barbershop. A barbershop doesn't scale.
For a company to grow really big, it must:
(a) make something lots of people want, and
(b) reach and serve all those people.
Barbershops are doing fine in the (a) department. Almost everyone needs their hair cut. The problem for a barbershop, as for any retail establishment, is (b). A barbershop serves customers in person, and few will travel far for a haircut. And even if they did the barbershop couldn't accomodate them.
Writing software is a great way to solve (b), but you can still end up constrained in (a). If you write software to teach Tibetan to Hungarian speakers, you'll be able to reach most of the people who want it, but there won't be many of them. If you make software to teach English to Chinese speakers, however, you're in startup territory.
Most businesses are tightly constrained in (a) or (b). The distinctive feature of successful startups is that they're not.
Disruption also attracts attention: disruptors are people who look for trouble and find it. Disruptive kids get sent in the principle's ofﬁce. [Disruptive companies] often pick ﬁghts they can’t win. Think of Napster: the name itself meant trouble. What kinds of things can one “nap”? Music... Kids...and perhaps not much else. Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker, Napster's then teenage founders, credibly threatened to disrupt the powerful music recording industry in 1999. The next year, they made the cover of Time magazine. A year and a half after that, they ended up in bankruptcy court.
The general piece of advice, which is fairly mundane and oft repeated, is: make sure you write a business plan because it will crystallize your thoughts to communicate your ideas with somebody else. Make sure that once you have written your business plan, you have somebody read and critique it and ask you questions.
And that tells you that as a [founder], you have the skills to start companies from scratch, but it doesn't necessarily mean that you have the skill to grow it till they're larger.
Anyone who has held an iDevice or a smoothly machined MacBook has felt the result of Steve Jobs’s obsession with visual and experiential perfection. But the most important lesson to learn from Jobs has nothing to do with aesthetics. The greatest thing Jobs designed was his business. Apple imagined and executed definite multi-year plans to create new products and distribute them effectively. Forget “minimum viable products”—ever since he started Apple in 1976, Jobs saw that you can change the world through careful planning, not by listening to focus group feedback or copying others’ successes.