Five winning tips from tech ceos

What does it take to be a winning internet entrepreneur?

What does it take to be a winning internet entrepreneur?
The counter intuitive advice to fail – “fail fast”, “fail often”, “fail better” – is often heard from the lips of internet entrepreneurs.

Jimmy Wales, cofounder of online encyclopaedia Wikipedia, really believes it. “The first version of Wikipedia was called Nupedia,” recalls Mr Wales. “It was very top-down, very structured,” he admits.

“I beat my head against the wall for two years, I knew the system was too complicated, but I didn’t want to fail.”

Don’t invest all your money in one thing, he now advises. “Give yourself a chance to reboot.” In fact Jimmy Wales was involved in several unsuccessful internet ventures before Wikipedia took off.

If Jimmy Wales wishes he’d listened to feedback earlier on, another chief executive encourages aspiring entrepreneurs to defy the critics.

“You’ll find lots of investors telling you, ‘you need to think of the market’,” says Nicolas Brusson of BlaBlaCar, one of France’s most successful web companies.

“But if you do something truly new, your market does not exist, you are going to create your own market.”

BlaBlaCar allows users to pay to take up unused seats on private car journeys. It defied its early critics by creating a new market for digital hitch-hiking, in the emerging sharing economy.

“Creativity and integrity are everything,” advises Yancey Strickler, chief execuive and cofounder of the crowdfunding site Kickstarter, an online platform which allows anyone to give financial backing to novel business ideas.

“Pursue a solution that you feel proud of, that you know feels right and morally correct.”

“It’s a passion thing,” he explains. “You’re standing up and saying I can do this better, it needs a level of passion you don’t have in normal business.”

But Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger cautions against obsessing about work to the detriment of your health.

“We came close to burning ourselves out in the early days,” he recalls. “Your incremental extra two hours between the 12th and 14th hour of work, you are getting diminishing returns,” he now realises.

“Take time for yourself, for exercise, it sounds trivial but actually can make a big difference.” He also recommends the camaraderie of well-chosen cofounders.

“If there’s somebody you can turn to who is your cofounder,” says Mr Krieger, “who you’ll look at and say ‘alright, we’ve got this’, it really, really helps.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Tinder founder Sean Rad didn’t dwell on the importance of cofounders, since the dating app’s early history is mired in personal animosity.

“Work can sometimes get overwhelming,” he admits. So he has developed a numerical coping strategy.

“It’s very important to identify the three most important things you need to accomplish, to get 80% of the results.”

Are these pioneers of the internet goldrush really a different breed of entrepreneur?

Shellye Archambeau, of MetricStream, a software company based in Silicon Valley, told us there is one important factor to consider.

“As soon as you start your company now, you can be global,” she says.

Not only does the reach of the internet allow you to think on a vast scale from the outset, but it also affects how you find your customers.

“In the old days if a customer found a great product, they might tell five people,” says Jimmy Wales. “But these days someone might tell 300 people on Facebook. So telling the story is key.”

The chief executive of a modern internet company needs to be an adept storyteller, it would seem, as well as a passionate leader. Someone who can engage social media users around the world.

December 7, 2015  Tags: , , , , , , ,   Posted in: Building Businesses, Business Survival, Business Win, Digital Business, Ecommerce Business, New Business Development, Online Business Growth, Technological Businesses, Uncategorized, Winning Businesses, Winning Websites

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