Evan Williams – Funding and Selling A Startup

Evan Williams is the entrepreneur behind Blogger and Odeo. Evan sold Blogger to The Borg of Web 2.0 startups, Google. “We are the Googleplex. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.” Evan was at the Future of Web Apps conference in San Francisco to talk about his experience with web entrepreneurship. Evan’s talk was titled Selling and Funding: Pros and Cons of Bringing in a Third Party.

During his talk, Evan noted several rules for a web startup. These rules included: be user-centric, be self-centered, be greedy, be tiny, and be balanced. Having given out a few rules for a startup, Evan spent most of his time talking about his five best Odeo screw-ups.

Evan’s first mistake when building Odeo was to try to build too much. He talked that mentioned that they had written large number of verbose specs and in the end they were not the first in the market.

Evan’s second screw up was building a service for people not like themselves. In an essence, Evan stated that they did not ‘eat their own dog food.’ In general, it is a good idea to use the freaking service you are building!

The third major screw up that Evan learned from his second entrepreneur endeavor was not adjusting fast enough. All these web 2.0 applications are all trying to keep up with the Joneses. Someone integrate with Google Maps, your web application needs to integrate with Google Maps. They start tagging your service start tagging. Evan remind the audience to try to be a purple cow, not a mee too application.

Another screw up mentioned by Evan of Odeo was raising too much money, too early. Raising too much money almost seems counterintuitive. Raising too much money was not heard in the web 1.0 era when champagne bottle was served for breakfast and companies had a $10 million burn rate a month. Evan said to “think of money as fuel.” If you have the fuel before the engine, you start thinking about the fuel. He said, “What do you do with soo much fuel, you drop some on the floor and light it on fire.” Kevin Rose, Michael Arrington all echoed Evan’s thought on raising cash, raising money is about timing.

The last screw up mentioned by Evan of his experience from building Odeo was not listening to his gut, his techie intuition, in hiring, raising moola, and building the ‘right’ product. Evan quoted Markus Frind of Plenty Of Fish who said, “The enemy was thinking.” Markus was talking about coder’s block, similar to writer’s block. Evan said that the best response is to not talk, just type. Don’t Talk. Just Code It!

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