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
- Start thinking of ideas. Write them down.
- Do nothing for 3 months (most of your ideas will be bad)
- Are they still good ideas? If so, pick one.
- 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
- Before you do any work, write the first line of your press release.
- Write the first paragraph of your homepage.
- Make the homepage.
- Hunt for unique names (but don’t worry too much – it’s not that important)
- Don’t borrow money. Figure out how to do the idea extremely cheaply.
- Make a mock-up. Show it to people. Get feedback.
- Launch way before you’re ready. Get more feedback.
- 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
- 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)