The Importance of Founders Staying Focused

The more this topic has been discussed the more founders i find making this grave mistake. As a founder of a company, you have one and only mission, to make your venture work. Everything else is noise… hackernews, funding, techcrunch, entrepreneurial / VC blogs, presentations, technologies… Noise you need to dial down…

The Funding Issue

– Hi, i am Thanasis, what is your startup about?

– HI! We want to do X for Z! […]

– And at what state are you now?

– We are getting prepped for a seed round, we have an amazing deck and we’ve already talked with two investors!

That’s the chat pattern with almost all of the founders i’ve ever met… Worst part is, it’s not only the CEO that talks about it, every member of the team will talk about funding between the second to third reply in our discussion.

The “funding issue” expands to the sad fact that in most of the founders’ mindsets, getting funded, is the one and only validation of them doing something right. Of course [i’ve done that too], it gets you nowhere, consumes 80% of your energy and steam and even worse, you might endup achieving what you desire. Then what?

Glitterati :: techcrunch, vc blogs, tweets, cool juice

Understandably, everyones gets star struck when exposed to all these kind of media. The “Startup / Get Funded” fire-hose of information is a well established business and doing a very good job at it. While there is value to be gained by putting your finger in the honey jar, you should not forget to pull it out.

There’s a time to study the industry and its inner workings, that time is not while you’re committed to your venture and the clock is ticking. “Who got funded by whom”, “10 ways to talk to a VC”, “How i got funded by sending a single email” are just not the kind of things your brain should spent a single computing cycle on.

It is understandable that being afounder is also a learning process and you need to get a good grip on the ropes of “foundering”, but there’s a fine line between being a groupie and studying. You need to muster every piece of discipline you have so you can keep your relationship with the startup mainstream media a strictly learning experience.

Technologies, product, introversion

If i had a penny for all the buzzwords i hear when the discussions veers towards technology and product… Self-confidence boosts, ideology preached, egos bloat…

Founders focused towards technology and product are fewer than previous mentioned sinkholes but when you meet them they stand out. They can talk for days about what they are building and the techs used, how it scales and jar jar jar jar…

So, are you building a product or a company?

Stay focused on what then?

Well, i’m certainly not the first one talking about [the-only-thing-that-matters]!

Plain and simple?

Validate your assumptions…

…before you even commit to a new venture! Get out there and try to sell your mock product to your target group. Is it education? Sell it to teachers! Is it about local shops? Sell it to them then! Refine your business model, discover it, evolve it, but have one!

And no, offering it for free so they can test it will not do. Everyone will be kind enough to you to accept a free service. Not all will actually be willing to pay for it. Get money in your pocket and you can be halfway sure  you are onto something…

Get your product out there as fast as possible

AS FAST AS POSSIBLE. No stealth bs, no “the product is not complete”, write it in any tech you are more familiar with, make it stick with saliva and clay and push it out there.

Expose it to a select and dedicated group of people and iterate on it. Gradually introduce more people to your beta, by the time your product will look somewhat like a website you’ll already have a significant following.

Focus on product market fit!

There i said it, too.

The single most important thing you need to stay focused on, is finding the perfect fit between your product and the market you are selling it to.

Does it make sense? Then why don’t you spend all your day trying to make it work? Find that sweet spot, where your product fits a market need and exploit it to infinity?


Top photo: “Weapons of Mass Distraction” contributed to the JazJaz Flickr Pool by Hunter Langston

Second photo: “Wrong Turn” by Kristen Morgan


About thanpolas

Software Engineer
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