start-ups

There’s a fascinating article on Reuters on the state of Google Glass — in summary, that entrepreneurs, companies and investors are abandoning the platform because there is no market yet. I read it with mixed feelings.

In my entrepreneurship class at Stanford, my lecturer Andy Rachleff pointed out that being first to market is not a demonstrative advantage — rather, it’s first to product-market fit that’s critical. Google was not the first in search, but the first with the right search product. Once it built its lead, it was impossible for competitors to catch up.

So when Google opened up its Google Glass program, why did so many developers flock to it? I can’t recall a unicorn-level company ever winning because it was first to a technology platform. In mobile, Instagram and even Whatsapp had many predecessors. Uber was not invented at the start of mobile’s lifecycle; only later. I can’t think of a company that succeeded because it was simply there earlier than others.

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Aspiring entrepreneurs frequently ask me one thing they should know before starting a company; and recently, a university magazine asked me to write an article about the same topic for their students.

I wrote my answer. The magazine didn’t like it.  Said it was too negative and so changed it to be made more palatable to wide-eyed teenagers.  Now here it is, in my little corner of the universe, the original in all its unedited glory.

So you are in school and want to be an entrepreneur. I was there too in 2007 after graduating with an MBA from Stanford University. My first start-up failed. The second one made money. And now I’m on my third riding the roller coaster that is entrepreneurship.

Before you take that leap, here’s my advice.

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