Too start or Not to Start?

Paul Graham came up with another amazing post – Why to not not start a Startup and I am going to personally reflect and take some excerpts from it.

Remember these are the first few weeks of my startup and I am reflecting a lot. Though what he says is more to IT and Programming. But I still believe you can extend it to any other industry and to the Indian context also.

The big mystery to me is: why don’t more people start startups? If nearly everyone who does it prefers it to a regular job, and a significant percentage get rich, why doesn’t everyone want to do this?

It seems like people are not acting in their own interest. What’s going on? Well, I can answer that. Because of Y Combinator’s position at the very start of the venture funding process, we’re probably the world’s leading experts on the psychology of people who aren’t sure if they want to start a company.

There’s nothing wrong with being unsure…In fact, I’d guess the most successful startups are the ones started by uncertain hackers rather than gung-ho business guys.

The way to deal with uncertainty is to analyze it into components. Most people who are reluctant to do something have about eight different reasons mixed together in their heads, and don’t know themselves which are biggest. Some will be justified and some bogus, but unless you know the relative proportion of each, you don’t know whether your overall uncertainty is mostly justified or mostly bogus.

The factors he mentions are: (My comments in brackets)

  1. Too young – Adults are not allowed to flake. The adult response to Challenge / “that’s a stupid idea,” is simply to look the other person in the eye and say “Really? Why do you think so?” (I think I have crossed that :D)
  2. Too inexperienced (I am decently fresh but experienced enough. I have not yet been spoilt is what I would say!)
  3. Not determined enough – You need a lot of determination to succeed as a startup founder. It’s probably the single best predictor of success. (I think I would score fairly high on that)
  4. Not smart enough (Lets see!)
  5. Know nothing about business (About this industry thats true … but in general I can get flavour and adjust)
  6. No cofounder – Not having a cofounder is a real problem. A startup is too much for one person to bear. (True in my case but the directors are helping decently and I have couple of office colleague in the bigger company I am seated with)
  7. No idea – In a sense, it’s not a problem if you don’t have a good idea, because most startups change their idea anyway. (We have a vision lets see how it matures out)
  8. No room for more startups (My case – its just blue ocean!)
  9. Family to support – This one is real. I wouldn’t advise anyone with a family to start a startup.What you can do, if you have a family and want to start a startup, is start a consulting business you can then gradually turn into a product business. (My father has some years to go before he retires! So no tension)
  10. Independently wealthy – What makes a good startup founder so dangerous is his willingness to endure infinite schleps.
  11. Not ready for commitment – This was my reason for not starting a startup for most of my twenties. Like a lot of people that age, I valued freedom most of all. I was reluctant to do anything that required a commitment of more than a few months. (I have crossed the stage. I wanted to get commited and this seems like a good idea)
  12. Need for structure – If that sounds like a recipe for chaos, think about a soccer team. Eleven people manage to work together in quite complicated ways, and yet only in occasional emergencies does anyone tell anyone else what to do. ( I enjoy chaos have a problem with too much structure but understand the need for structure … )
  13. Fear of uncertainty – No one will blame you if the startup tanks, so long as you made a serious effort. There may once have been a time when employers would regard that as a mark against you, but they wouldn’t now.
  14. Don’t realize what you’re avoiding
  15. Parents want you to be a doctor (Have got family support so thats kind of cool)
  16. A job is the default (not in my case)

In the end, just to give the Indian context – I would like to point out two posts one by Amit (His experiences from Barcamps in India) and another by Savitri Kini (compares Bangalore and Silicon Valley)

Amit says

The reason for my lamenting the lack of a healthy eco-system of product
startups in India is surely not missed out on tech enthusiasts.
Products are a measure of intellectual capability, innovativeness and
the entrepreneurial risk taking ability. Unless, we create some big
success stories out of Indian software products (specially in the mass
market consumer software space), we shall continue to be treated as code monkeys, whose only claim to fame is a time-barred labor cost arbitrage based competitive advantage.

Savitri says

Apart from the part about funding, nurturing an entrepreneurial company also requires ability to provide strategic inputs. But if the current crème of the society has come from services industry, they cannot support the product companies. Most of the folks in the IT industry haven’t been strategic thinkers themselves. They excel in doing the same thing better and more efficiently. So my humble request to people: let’s stop calling Bangalore Indian’s Silicon Valley. We are not even 10% of what Silicon Valley is all about. Lets get to the task of reaching there, rather than pat ourselves on the back for few $$ that we have made in the past decade.

Note: The comments in the posts are also interesting to read!

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Published by: vinu

My life - BREESY! :-) :D Beautiful Random Enjoyable Eventful Simple Yellow Places I have lived (chronological): (country) (- state) (-- city) India - (Orissa) -- Cuttack (2yrs) -- Bhubaneshwar (3yrs) - (Maharastra) -- Bombay/Mumbai (8 + 1 yrs) - (TamilNadu) -- Madras/Chennai (6 yrs) - (Pondicherry) (1 yr) United States - (California) -- Berkeley (3 yrs) Education : IIT Madras 02, UC Berkeley 05 Work Experience: Mechanical Engineer at FORD Motor Company, India; Management Trainee at Datamatics Technologies Ltd.; Wireless Programmer at TeleCommunication Systems Inc. Passions (currently as of Dec 2005): Family, Media (visual / audio), Mobile Systems, Internet, Design Interests: Music, Movies, Photography, Enjoying nature, Playing Violin, Graphics, Business / Entrepreneurship / Managments, Spirituality, Design, Technology, Mobile / Wireless

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