Meg Dedyne

Not sure if a startup is for you? Look closer

By Meg Dedyne

As I was reading The PMARCA Guide to Startups, I first saw Marc Andreessen’s title: Why not to do a startup. Okay, I thought, I’m hooked.

And he actually starts his article (after the intro) talking about the great aspects of startups. Okay, I thought, there is some positivity. Much to my dismay as I was reading through the “good things” about startups, I found myself saying, “This is definitely not for me.” Now, before I gave up completely, I kept reading.

While the opportunity to create my own destiny sounds wonderful, it actually completely terrifies me. The opportunity to create something new sounds cool, but I don’t really know if that’s something for me. Creating my own culture and dream team of people didn’t make me jump out of my seat either.

The opportunity to have an impact on the world. Okay, you caught me. In my opinion, Andreessen should have started with that one. Who doesn’t want to make an impact on the world? He suggests ideas like giving people a new way to communicate or allowing people to work together in a new way, which are both equally wonderful. But I feel like when people think of startups they think of these amazing conquests, such as being the next Facebook or Instagram. The reality is, not everyone in startups creates Facebook – duh. There is probably a reason why there isn’t a movie for every startup ever made, because probably not all startups are as interesting as the start of Facebook – double duh. However, I think of a startup as being anything that will make people’s lives easier.

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Startups. Creative Commons.

How about that amazing bakery in your hometown that everyone loves? Or how about that idea that is going to help the international community find housing? I believe that any idea, no matter how small, has the potential to become a “startup.” Impacting the world is huge, but it doesn’t have to be, even if it is impacting just one person, it still matters. However, the emotional roller coaster Andreessen talks about with creating startups still doesn’t sound like a good time, or for the faint hearted I might add.

The question, what correlates the most to success – team, product or market? I feel is like asking, what came first, the chicken or the egg? Obviously all three matter, but they matter more or less depending on whom you are talking to. He points out (a little sarcastically) that most people will say the team matters most, because who wants to be that heartless person that thinks people don’t matter? Also, it’s easier to say people when there isn’t an exact product or market in mind yet.

Andreessen believes that market is the most important aspect. Why? Because market pulls the product out of the startup. I completely agree. This is what we have been discussing all along in class. Without a market need for something, what are we really dealing with?

This is when I think Paul Graham comes in. He discusses how one easy way to be unusual and to come up with ideas is to be young. Tapping into the market is one thing I think we, under 23-year-olds do best simply because we usually are the target market. My dad, who thinks Twitter is stupid, usually isn’t. If being young is an advantage, I feel like I have a lot more exploring, question asking and thinking to do in a year or so.

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