Simon Willison’s Weblog


51 items tagged “entrepreneurship”


How should I evaluate a potential technical co-founder? What qualities matter most to the business, to investors, to future employees?

Build a small weekend project with them. If they can’t build and (more importantly) ship something simple in a couple of days, with you collaborating with them effectively on what it is, how it should work and so on, they aren’t a good fit.

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What’s an idea worth?

I like Derek Siver’s model proposed here:

[... 77 words]

I have an idea for a website, with an idea for eventually having cashflow out of it? However, my skills are insufficient to build it and I have no money at all to hire someone—what’s my best starting point?

You either need to learn some skills, or you need to earn some money. Sadly, having a good idea is not enough—you need to be able to execute it as well.

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At seed funding stage, how can a Startup protect itself from losing the majority?

Firstly, don’t sell a majority stake in your company. Secondly, hire competent legal advice to make sure you fully understand the terms of your investment and don’t get caught out through misunderstanding board voting rights, preferred vs common stock, liquidation preferences etc.

[... 62 words]

How do you impress a venture capitalist so much that he invites you from another country for a meetup?

Don’t make a big deal about the fact that you are travelling from another country. Try to get a few of them interested enough to want a meeting, then make a bigger trip out of it.

[... 61 words]

What books are there for living a life as an startup entrepreneur? Giving up a job and then find a mentor, Brainstorming ideas, locating seed money. Hire Programmers. Have I got this right?

Read The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses—see also

[... 60 words]

What’s the best platform I can use for a food delivery startup? Shopify? Or should I instead learn to code?

Don’t build an e-commerce system as your first programming project—I know engineers with many years of experience who wouldn’t trust themselves to write code that handles money.

[... 103 words]

Who was accepted into Y Combinator’s Summer 2013 batch?

You are unlikely to get any good answers to this question for a while, because YC startups are advised not to announce their participation straight away. Instead, they usually hold the announcement until they are ready to launch something—it’s a useful hook for getting extra coverage for the story.

[... 79 words]


How great do you need to be in programming to be a technical (Co) founder?

You don’t need to be amazing, but you do need to know how to ship. You might be the best person at writing complex machine learning algorithms in the world, but if you can’t get running code deployed in a way that lets customers use it you won’t be able to get anywhere that matters.

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Is it viable to say to an investor that you will quit your job and work full-time on a startup, if you get the funding?

This will reflect badly on you. Why should an investor risk their money on your company if you aren’t even willing to take the risk of quitting your job for it?

[... 62 words]

Is it worth accepting an investment from YCombinator if you have an established network in the valley?

Yes. Plenty of the companies in our batch at YC already had well established networks, and they still benefited enormously from the advice and introductions YC could offer.

[... 295 words]

Is it even possible to think of a new idea? Anything that I think of has either been done, or someone is doing it. How do you keep yourself motivated enough to pursue it?

A lot of the time it’s not just about the idea, it’s also about timing. There are plenty of ideas which have failed in the past but could succeed if tried again today. A few things to consider:

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Does version 1 of a startup always take much longer than expected?


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How do startups verify the real names of their users?

The short answer is they don’t: they expect people to obey the policy, then block accounts that are clearly in violation.

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Does Y Combinator ever fund British startups?

Yes. Our startup went through Y Combinator Winter 2011 (Jan to March this year) and we’re a pair of UK co-founders. We’re back in London now.

[... 41 words]


What are the main things a non-technical co-founder of a tech company should focus on while the site is still being developed?

Building the right product.

[... 32 words]

What are some ways I can get the word out about my startup/entrepreneur focused conference?

Add it to and make sure you list all of the speakers. Then anyone who signs in to Lanyrd and is following at least one of your speakers on Twitter will be told about your event.

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What are the differences between GDC and SXSW? Which one is better for a web entrepreneur?

I haven’t been to GDC, but it’s a game development conference. SxSW interactive is almost entirely web stuff, so it would be a better fit for a web entrepreneur.

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Is there a good online calendar for upcoming technology conferences?

We’re trying to build exactly this with—not just for technology conferences, but they are definitely our largest niche.

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Is it a good idea for new start-up to outsource Software/App Development?

It depends on what you mean by “outsourcing”.

[... 130 words]


How to sell your software for $20,000 (via) The best article I’ve read on software entrepreneurship in ages. # 28th June 2008, 9:21 am