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[Discuss] Startup

The Forbes billionaires list offers some food for thought. Zuckerberg is #16 on the list, with an idea developed in 2006. Michael Dell is further down, with his 1984 idea. Gates remains at the top, with his vintage-1979 idea.

Looking at those ideas, it's pretty clear they were a dime a dozen back then, and nowadays it's pretty close to impossible to come up with a worthy idea that doesn't already have 10,000+ Google hits, and most that I've dreamed up & believed to be unique have multiple VCs already chasing them with $10M+ funding.

Yet, thinking back to 1984, I remember writing up a list of ideas, and for a while I got serious about developing one of them: a PC building business inspired by a friend's contract job at IBM Boca Raton and by my own encounters with DEC Rainbow engineers in 1982.

Michael Dell is a billionaire now because he developed this pretty-obvious idea, had good connections, was passionate and played the game better than I did. (He's about 3 years younger than me; age is pretty irrelevant in the world of entrepreneurs, though it's true that a lot of them got started as teenagers or in their early 20s). The idea itself was shared by anyone with a catalog of PC parts and a desire to make money fast.

Facebook? Heh, where is the developer of MySpace now? So another point to this is that first-mover advantage helps, but you also have to get big fast. For that you need growth capital. My bosses at Manhunt.Net had a great, non-original idea, are making great money, but failed to pursue mezzanine financing at a crucial point (at about the $5-10M gross sales volume, also when smartphones came out) to take the company global and to ensure their tech could outperform their competitors'. Their addressable market was about $500 million worldwide but they captured only about $25M before the market splintered into broad geographical slices, and they earned a reputation for lousy phone apps. (That company and its rivals filed no patents; there were plenty of secrets but success depended more on building a subscriber base, and creating tech, faster than your rivals.)

All this is to say: your IoT idea looks workable and I hope you can monetize it. The business world will reward you if you can build a marketing/business firewall (not, with due respect to those who disagree, an IP legal firewall) around it. Also, look at that pile of entertainment remotes on your coffee table and recognize why they don't inter-operate well. Did Logitech make lots of money on Harmony controls? No, because all the vendors want to build their own walled garden.

How will you stand atop that barrier and say to the Internet, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall"?


Sent from my iPhone

> Steve Santos wrote:
> Sounds like the first thing I need to do is separate what it is from
> the secret sauce that makes it work.

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