David Hansson on Startups

I highly recommend this talk by David Hansson of 37Signals and Ruby on Rails fame. To sum it up: Have realistic goals for your startup; you don’t need to be the next Facebook or YouTube to have a successful business.

Here are some quotes (his Danish accent is awesome):

“I think there’s too little talk among startups about just making money on their own.”

“1. Great application, 2. ??? Price!, 3. Profit”

“But somehow I think that notion got lost in the web world. The funny thing is we played this game before. We played it back in 2000. It was all about the eye balls, it was all about the VCs and then getting bought out and IPOs and whatever. It didn’t really work then and now we’re playing another round because there’s money again to be invested. Money ready to be bought out on social network media networking things.”

“Lots of ways to have a price”

“The really cool thing about all of this is you don’t need to be a fucking genius to make any of this work! It’s not rocket surgery.”

“Here’s the kicker. Just because you slap a price on something, doesn’t mean it you’ll have a successful business. Most business fail.”

“You can be pretty happy on just a million dollars. Most people would be. I think we lose sight of that because we get this image pumped up of a billion dollar company.”

“I encourage a lot of people to take the better odds at a smaller reward and perhaps worry about the billion dollars next time.”

“You just have to solve a problem a little bit better than the other guy.”

“I think there’s just too few people trying to make a nice Italian restaurant in the web space.”

“Getting consumer to pay you for something – that’s pretty hard.”

“There’s a lot of room in between to just enjoy life.”

“Calling your own shots, running at your own pace – that’s pretty alright. Once you get to that point where the financials are fine. If you’re making $1m a year you’re doing pretty alright. You’re doing better than most people out there. And when you get that portion of your life taken care of, there’s a whole lot of other things that start mattering a ton more, like not being in meetings freaking all day, like not being told what to do by other people, being able to set your own pace, call your own shots, is immensely powerful motivator for just enjoying your life.”

Craig Newmark: “We both know some people who own more than a billion (dollars) and they’re not any happier.”

“I think that’s exactly how the money game is. Once you reach a certain point, nothing else beyond that really matters.”

“Where are all the people saying ‘I just want to build a business and enjoy it over the next 20 years’?”

“Are you willing to trade being a passionate developer for a little bit of moola? To get into that hell hole? I don’t think so.”

“No need to dominate the box office, lots of winners possible.”

“But where’s the network effect? How are you going to be viral?” … “How are you going to infect the entire population?” “You know what’s viral? Shoes. Shoes are viral.” “Great service, a great business. It doesn’t have to be this ingenious idea. Often the simplest ideas int he world like treating your customers nicely while still asking your customers for money — it works! And you can build great businesses like that.”

“A side business is really not that bad. Having a limited amount of time everyday to work on something or even just having a few days a week to work on something really focuses your energy.”

“I had 10 hours per week to develop base camp. Not 10 hours per day… 10 hours per week. That was the bill I sent to 37Signals. When I had 10 hours per week, you couldn’t screw around. Having less time is really a benefit to most people because if you have all the time in the world you’re probably going to yank it off anyway and its not going to be… yank it off in the business sense of the word… you’re going to yank or waste your time on frivolous features that you don’t really need anyway.”

“People are in too much of a hurry. You don’t really need to build a huge company overnight.”

“Take it easy. This whole startup thing. This whole rush thing. You’re thinking about it ‘I can put all this work right now and coast from there.’ It’s never going to be less work.” … “In some ways its just going to be more work.” “The practices you choose to adopt when you are a startup will stick with you.”

“Great achievement comes from trying to solve simple problems.”

“Good innovation comes from just solving simple problems that you’re intimately involved with.”

“Solving your own problems – great advice. I think its the easiest way to get somewhere. Just realize you’re not unique, you’ll probably find 2000 other people out there with the same problem that are willing to pay you for it.”

“Who the hell gets anything productive done for 14 hours/day? Try working 5 hours per day. If you only have 5 hours/day to spend on something you’d focus your time a lot better.”

3 thoughts on “David Hansson on Startups

  1. links for 2011-03-24 « Gatunogatuno’s Weblog

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