Troovy, the latest Vancouver site that mixes social networking, finding events and reviewing services is Don Ambridge's baby. He was kind enough to answer a few questions that I've been asking other entrepreneurs about starting up.
How do you begin a startup, other than the idea?
The short answer, for me, is you just start. I'll qualify that though; I think you need to socialize the idea first, typically among your own network of trusted peers and hopefully sage advisors. Expect both excitement, avid consensus and equally frightening dismissal of the concept. You need to take all of it in, process it and decide if you're still as passionate about it. If you are, full steam ahead. Of course that doesn't mean you'll be successful, but it does mean you'll find out one way or the other. I think the worst avenue you can take in this case is leaving something on the table that still gnaws at your personal sense of curiousity. Regret is a terrible thing!
Do you have investors?
At this time no, we are a fully bootstrapped organization. Frankly, we're not in a hurry to pursue investment yet, at least not until we finish developing our monetization model. Does that mean we're not interested though? No. But as a proactive component of our day to day, it's not there yet.
Do you have an exist strategy and is it important?
We don't yet, and there's a pretty easy answer. We're just focusing on building a valuable, useful and engaging tool for users to get more connected with their communities. Too many firms are racing toward the exit finish line prematurely, primarily because their investors require it. Being free of those constraints at this time allows us to focus our efforts on improving the property, expanding our reach and featureset, and cultivating the right partnerships.
Any advice for entrepreneurs?
Listen to all the advice, both positive and negative. Then get started. Be careful about sharing too much, but by the same token don't build up walls so high you cannot engage others in fruitful conversation about your ideas.
What would you do differently or the same?
Along the same lines, I would personally have stuck to some of my original decisions, as opposed to backing off after heeding some possibly questionable advice. I ended up coming full circle back to where I was much earlier. Also, always be looking for the win/win when approaching partners and clients. It's easy to see the value from your own perspective, trickier to really, honestly determine the value for those you're trying to engage and service sometimes.
Do you listen to investors about advice and how important is gut instinct?
Advice seems to be a common theme doesn't it? I ALWAYS listen. How much you act upon is another issue altogether. Gut instinct usually wins out, but not always. Bottom line though is that if you're not listening, you're not learning. And you're potentially just afraid of hearing something you don't want to.