Thursday, October 25, 2007

Guy Kawasaki's New Web Startup

I've been a big fan of Guy Kawasaki ever since I heard him speak at a nonprofit boot camp hosted by Craigslist a couple of years ago in San Francisco. I just read this interview with him in Entrepreneur magazine. It's about a new website he's just created called Truemors, short for "true rumors." It's a social media site, but it's also a business startup, and the purpose of the interview is to show that it doesn't take big bucks to start something successful. As someone trying to get two new organizations off the ground (without much money), I found this very helpful.

Here are a few excerpts...

Truemors is a functioning illustration of what it takes to launch a web startup these days. It didn't involve gobs of VC funding or years of development and testing. It may or may not turn into a big moneymaking enterprise, but entrepreneurs can learn a lot from Kawasaki's experience with getting Truemors off the ground and onto the internet. The startup guru took a few moments away from his new venture to answer our questions.

How did you fund Truemores?
So far, it's only cost about $12,000, so it was personally [funded]. Whenever I need more capital, I make another speech--a fraction of a speech, actually. This beats sucking up to VCs, and I'm a VC.

Lots of people said they could do Truemors for less money by shaving off domain registration costs here, legal costs there, etc. Yes, people could do almost everything that I did for less, saving a few thousand dollars. But the point wasn't to go from $12,000 [in startup costs] to $7,000. It was going from $1 million to $12,000.

You spent no money on marketing. Is this approach something the average internet startup entrepreneur could get away with?
No, but it's certainly not the case that you have to have millions of dollars to market something on the internet. You'd get that impression from most pitches to VCs. I was fortunate and did it for close to nothing, so anyone should be able to do it for $50,000 to $100,000.

What advice would you share with other entrepreneurs about this startup experience?
The most important lessons are: Do things quick, dirty and fast; don't wait for the perfect time/market/product; ignore the naysayers--odds are they are right, but you'll never know unless you try; and keep things cheap so you can make a lot of mistakes.

What does the fact that you were able to create a web startup so quickly and inexpensively tell us about the state of web entrepreneurship in general?
Now more than ever, people should give it a shot to create the next Google, You-Tube, Facebook, eBay, whatever. You can get things done so much cheaper, faster and better because of tools like MySQL and WordPress as well as the willingness of the crowds. There are many tech businesses that take millions to start, but there are many that can be done on credit cards. I hope I've proven that.

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