Monthly Archives: March 2010

Buy a Jeep, Fund a Startup

Everyone comes up with this cockapoo about startups. It’s not about being smart. It’s about being around long enough – Marty Pinchinson, co-founder of Sherwood Partners

Ever have one of those moments when you see some new product being advertised and think: Hey! They stole my idea!

Lots of folks think up stuff in a bar talking to a mate one night, only to have the idea float off. Not many actually get out and work on products. I’ve been lucky because my job — technology strategy consulting — has constantly let me look at big and small businesses and how they develop and deliver products to market. So I’ve seen lots of other people develop products, spend lots of money, and try to get traction. Sometimes these products looked useful. Many times they did not. Some made money. Others didn’t.

Many, many times when I was in my 20s or 30s I would be approached by people who had a great idea and were looking to team up for a startup. Being a hotshot programmer and architect, I never took the bait. Why should I? Consulting rates were great, most startups fail, and if I could pick winning startup ideas I’d be playing the stock market and not slinging code and training project teams.

But then I started seeing people I knew retire on money they’d made on startups, and my opinion started changing.

I became a startup junkie.

That was about ten years ago, and since then I’ve had the feeling of “That’s my idea!” only about half a dozen times, but each time they were products worth hundreds of millions or billions dollars — and each time they were products that I spent real time and money developing only to run out of money before they really had a chance to take off. Hey, maybe I’m able to spot these things after all.

Buy my Jeep and let’s find out.


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