Some Great Startup Advice from Sequoia Partners
For most of my career things were different than today. Until just recently, if you were working on a startup, you kept your mouth shut and only talked about it on a need-to-know basis. Today a lot of startup teams see nothing wrong with telling
everybody about their project. This includes all manner of details which should have been kept locked in the vault. I suppose it’s part of the social networking culture which I have never seen the point of personally … but that’s a story for another day.
So here is what Sequoia Partners venture capitalist Douglas Leone has to say to the Chatty Cathies out there:
Little companies have really 2 advantages: stealth and speed. You [Arrington] come from the world of speed and no stealth.
The best thing for little companies to do is to stay away from the cocktail circuit….We at Sequoia have never released a press release in 35 years….Then run like a son-of-a- gun. Don’t say anything to anybody. (source)
Leone then points out that many of today’s web-based startups are created in a weekend and can, therefore, be knocked off in a weekend as well. So why would you disclose your ideas and plan to complete strangers before your venture is even up and running? Give it at least a week’s head-start, bro.
Old-timers will recall the dotcom days of the 1990s when revenueless but venture capital funded companies would blow $20K to $40K per month on retainers with public relations firms in the belief that mentions in various trade magazines would somehow compensate for the non-existence of customers.
The lesson here is to focus on doing it rather than talking about doing it.
I used to have this paranoia type mentality where I would have a great idea and not tell a soul about it and spend hours researching and planning by my self and the concept would never come to fruition. I have now come to realize that it’s more likely by sharing my idea with others I have a greater chance of executing the idea then to have another person steal the business idea. If the idea can be that easily copied I wouldn’t suggest investing in the idea anyways. The reality is there are not many people out there that have the contacts, resources, and time to steal your idea so it’s worth the risk to get the valuable insights.
Daniel, I could not agree more! I have worked full time on an idea for the last three years and there are now 13 members in our LLC. The product comes out of a need I recognized 40 years ago while serving as an Army medic on an amputee ward at Walson Army Hospital. I kept it under wraps always thinking I would figure it all out on my own. Well it took a long time to realize it was bigger than me and it wasn’t until I put it up on the web that friends and family invested over $500,000.
Now we have filed for the patents, finished the prototype and still need $1M to design manufacturing equipment and do human studies. Your right, if it easy don’t bother and if it’s difficult few people will even want to try and take from you. On top of that Kodak and Eastman Gelatine Corporation are strategic partners and the Dental Schools at Creighton University and The University of Maryland are collaborators. My hats off to everyone who has it in them to take a shot because it’s not easy! Best regards, John
Yes, STFU so nobody will compete with Sequoia for your first round financing.
Startups built in a week-end? Really? Someone is living in silicon valley vc fairyland.