Thursday, January 7, 2016

The power of the side project

There’s definitely the archetype of the super-founder: she’s graduated from MIT or Stanford, has top expertise in a particular field, has acquired the skill of differentiating between going after a hard problem versus an unattainable ideal and has the evangelical persona with which to enthrall both investors and potential teammates.
And even she will have a difficult time of it.
Startups are hard.
I haven’t experienced it personally, as I haven’t raised any money, but everything I’ve been reading and listening to in the last six years tells me so in no uncertain terms.
Doing a full-fledged startup is a major undertaking which deserves serious consideration prior to taking the plunge.
And now imagine the non-technical solo founder trying to become a tech entrepreneur. The odds are stacked so high against a positive outcome that it’s nearly ludicrous to consider (although, believe it or not, that too is slowly starting to gain acceptance with some early-stage accelerator programs such as Forward Partners in the UK and Science in Santa Monica, CA).
But there is a way out — or rather, a way *in*:
Work on it as a side project.
In other words, it’s something you’re not trying to scale, but you are tinkering with.
Duck Duck Go started out as such, and while other search engines have raised a ton of money and have since disappeared, it is still among us.
This approach may not work for some, as it requires some cash outlay in getting the prototype(s) made; but it might just “be the ticket” for someone who has earmarked some money for the purpose of investing it (or should I say gambling it?) on trying to create something new in the world.
This is assuming you can’t code. If you can, then common sense dictates that the requisite would be to put in time initially — rather than money — for a software startup (hardware reportedly being a different ballgame).

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