Thursday, June 26, 2008

Starting a company 101

Recently, Fred Wilson wrote a post about his "boredom" with Web 2.0 companies. He didn't really mean this, but it's worth expanding the topic a little bit.

He mentioned his buddies working in alternative energy and biomedical technologies that seemingly improve the way people live in this world. Is there a future for Web 2.0 to have the same impact as these?

If there's nothing else I learned at MIT, it's the Startup 101. What is the first question that an entrepreneur should be asking? While there's no right answer, what I noticed from many successful companies is, "Am I solving your problems?" In other words, "Does my 'baby' touch your heart, head, and wallet?" If all these conditions are met, we have a business here. Biomedical technology and clean tech are perfect examples that induce fears of something really serious happening to the world that we live in.

I should at least mention that there are some business with pure entertainment purposes like gaming, gambling, etc. that do not necessarily need to address big problems besides just being fun.

Investors get excited when entrepreneurs induce fears about not doing anything about the company. Some of the most successful/interesting companies do this just so well.
  • Google emerged as a problem solver to horrible user experience and search results from other competitors.
  • A123 Systems made it possible to have high power mobile batteries that some customers were dying to get.
  • Wikipedia created a "reliable" source of information non-existent previously by pulling in voluntary experts from around the world. Wikipedia does a much better job than using keywords to search the web when I need quick facts.
  • and the list goes on.
I hear this all the time at MIT and want to share this with everyone. "Don't complain, go out and fix the problems!"

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