Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Start it up – or not

Marc Andreessen is a guy who knows a thing or two about IT startups – first he founded Netscape, then Opsware, and now Ning. According to Andreessen, there are good reasons to do an startup company, and then there are not-so-good reasons.

The good reasons? You can probably guess what they are. Doing a startup gives you the opportunity to:

  • Control your own destiny
  • Create something new
  • Impact the world
  • Work the way you like, with the people you like
  • Make $$$

These reasons, to a greater or lesser degree, fan the flames that burn in the hearts of visionaries who found companies. But they're just the beginning, and the devil (and the profits) are in the details.

Simply stated, it takes more than greed or idealism to do an startup. As Andreessen points out, you still will need to:

  • Take the emotional strain that comes with the ups and downs of starting a new venture
  • Want to make the decisions. No autopilots need apply
  • Accept rejection. After all, a lot of VCs – and more than a few of your friends and relatives -- will call you nuts. Some won't even be that nice
  • Convince talented people to leave cushy jobs to take a chance on your new venture
  • Work long hours with little immediate reward
  • Accept a new corporate culture where job descriptions evolve faster than teenage fads
  • Walk on the sunny side of the street, resisting the temptation to fear the worst

Even this isn't the complete list. “I haven't even talked about figuring out what product to build, building it, taking it to market, and standing out from the crowd,” Andreessen writes.

No, this isn't a line of work for the faint of heart.

After finding inspiration on a beach in sunny Mexico, I started Black Duck Software for all the standard reasons you do a startup. Now, nearly five years later, I'm proud to say we have almost 400 customers, we operate in eight cities with either offices or sales reps, we have 81 great employees, and we are defining a new market as the market leader.

Steve Jobs, co-founder of that little hardware startup known as Apple, had it right when he said the journey is the reward.

No comments: