I have once again read the article 1000 Fans by Kevin Kelly. I think it’s a really interesting piece, even though it’s quite old now (written in 2008). Here’s some thoughts about its relevance to today’s startup scene.
While media is full of articles about rockstar entrepreneurs building startups that explode in growth, it’s easy to get the picture that this is normal. Naturally, the stuff we see in media is just a curation of the most interesting stuff that happens. We want to read interesting, huge, amazing, critical, amazing, billion dollar stuff right? Media don’t tell you much about all those startups that aimed for the stars and failed before even starting the engines.
Recently, I’ve been looking a lot at bootstrapped startups, and I’m even bootstrapping a startup myself. I think it’s a really cool idea, and more reasonable than VC for many startups (Unless you’re starting something like Uber, AirBNB, etc in which case VC is a great idea). As many online businesses can get off the ground for just the cost of a domain name today. At the same time, I’ve noticed that more and more people around me are willing to pay for apps and services now, compared to just a year ago.
With this in mind, I think it makes sense to for a new startup to (1) Provide value (2) Generate revenue, and if you need (3) Raise capital to grow etc. I think the most important part is that you don’t have VC as your business model. Don’t ask for money to spend it freely and after two years just crash and burn or get acquired and screw your users.
When you look at startups this way instead. You don’t have to be a rockstar entrepreneur to earn a living by making stuff. You can just get 100, 1000, or 10000 true fans. Fans that love and wants to buy the stuff you make. Although you probably wont make a fortune, you can still make a great living out of what you love. And I think that’s really cool.