John Buckman on How to be a Successful Internet Entrepreneur

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    John Buckman, founder and CEO of Magnatune.com (and founder of BookMooch), gave a really interesting talk on how to be successful as an Internet entrepreneur at Loic Le Meur’s recent LeWeb08 conference in Paris. He had a lot of good, practical tips about what he sees as the ‘right’ approach to entrepreneurship.

    His presentation is pretty concise and to the point. Worth watching if you have a few minutes.

    Here’s a summary of his points:

    Finding a good idea

    1. Start thinking of ideas. Write them down.
    2. Do nothing for 3 months (most of your ideas will be bad)
    3. Are they still good ideas? If so, pick one.
    4. Explain your idea in 15 seconds to a friend in a noisy pub over a beer. Do they stop drinking their beer to listen to you? If not, it’s probably not a good idea.

    Developing Your Idea

    1. Before you do any work, write the first line of your press release.
    2. Write the first paragraph of your homepage.
    3. Make the homepage.
    4. Hunt for unique names (but don’t worry too much – it’s not that important)
    5. Don’t borrow money. Figure out how to do the idea extremely cheaply.
    6. Make a mock-up. Show it to people. Get feedback.
    7. Launch way before you’re ready. Get more feedback.
    8. Pitch it to bloggers. If no one cares, drop it.

    Other notes on entrepreneurship

    • Don’t quit your day job.
    • Only quit it once you have enough money.
    • Sales people are an extremely bad idea. They’re expensive. Your product should be great enough to spread via word of mouth from a few early users to the wider world.
    • Read a lot of books about how to run a company.

    How to get great press coverage for your startup

    • be really interesting
    • convince two influential bloggers to write about you
    • focus on freelancers, not staff writers (freelancers tend to have to find interesting stories; staff writers get given them by their editors)
    • become a cause that a freelancer would like to adopt
    • once a couple of people have written about you, more (often more mainstream) people will write about you
    • think of as many edgy/juicy story angles as possible to give to journalists

    Product/site development

    • Use a technology like PHP that is well proven and cheap to hire developers for
    • Don’t skimp on graphics
    • Be technical (if you’re not already, learn)
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