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Business of Software 2008 - YCombinator - Jessica Livingston

Business of SoftwareI'm starting a series of blog posts from the Business of Software conference that I attended last week in Boston. If you are part of a small technology business (software, hardware, etc.), especially if you are an owner, I'd highly recommend that you attend this conference next year. It's small, 250 or so people, and everyone is interested in business. It's not a lot about technology, but it's inspiring and exciting to talk about business with lots of people looking to build their businesses.

I was really interested to hear this talk, and then incredibly disappointed at the end. Honestly I felt that the entire talk was a plug and summary of her book: Founders at Work. I did download the sample chapter for the book and it was interesting. I ended up buying it because I like those real life, biography type books, and this is one, with interviews with some successful founders of companies.

Along with a couple others (Paul Graham and Trevor Blackwell ), Jessica runs Ycombinator, an incubator that funds very early stage startups with small amounts of money to see if they can develop a business. These are small amounts of money, like $5000-$2000, not enough to really survive on, but it might buy ramen noodles for awhile. They take small stakes (2-10%) and a couple of their companies participated in the conference.

Her talk centered around some basic ideas and anecdotes from interviews in her books. A few of the ideas:

  • Most founders didn't have great ideas. Their ignorance was an advantage and they often succeeded in an area they hadn't expected.
  • New ideas look bad to most people. If they didn't, someone else would be doing it.
  • You have to make something people want (obvious to me)
  • Do not give up! Perseverence is critical. Business is a roller coaster and you have to believe in your success and be determined. It seems that a lack of determination is the #1 reason for success.
Not sure I'd recommend her as a speaker, but there were some ideas worth thinking about for startups.

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Steve Jones is the editor of SQLServerCentral.com and visits a wide variety of data related topics in his daily editorial. Steve has spent years working as a DBA and general purpose Windows administrator, primarily working with SQL Server since it was ported from Sybase in 1990. You can follow Steve on Twitter at twitter.com/way0utwest


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