By the Numbers: How I built a Web 2.0, User-Generated Content, Citizen Journalism, Long-Tail, Social Media Site for $12,107.09

Last night I attended a BayChi event held at the PARC auditorium. This presentation featured Guy Kawasaki, Founder of Truemors and Managing Director at Garage Technology Ventures. His presentation was titled “By the Numbers: How I built a Web 2.0, User-Generated Content, Citizen Journalism, Long-Tail, Social Media Site for $12,107.09.

You can find the entire PowerPoint slide deck on Guy’s blog.

Since Guy is such a great entertainer, I could not tell if it was just his sarcastic humor or if he was sincere when he said he had no plan when putting this website together. In addition, I was shocked to hear a renowned marketer claim to have spent $0 dollars on marketing. However, his reasoning behind this dollar figure was, so far money has not been necessary. For twenty-four years, Guy Kawasaki has been building relationships, evangelizing, public speaking, and doing favors for others. It took him half his life to become a Silicon Valley icon and now he is trying to cash in on it. He has built up enough branding of his own name, that the fact that he is starting a company is selling itself.

Guy claimed that the website is a place to post comments (rumors) to share real time up to the second information with others. Although there seems to be a wide array of useful information, it seems like most users find the technology to be a convenient way to post jokes and tabloid worthy current events. The website was developed on WordPress making it easy to blog. However, the posts do not seem like true blogs but more like simple pointers to other blogs or websites. In the short time I spent navigating the website, it seemed like most of the posts were vanilla cut and paste excerpts from the original source.

Questions & Answers

Guy spent about 40 minutes answering questions from the audience. Here are my notes on his three most memorable answers.

1. Why do you believe it is a good time for entrepreneurs?

It is so cheap to develop software these days. Look, I did it for 12k and I was not even penny pinching. If you are a developer, you probably could have done it for the cost of the legal fees. If you really wanted to be cheap you could have thrown something together and incorporated after you got traction. Since the dot com meltdown, investors have become much more conservative: we fund acceleration for the most part, not development.

Ideas do not build companies, execution is what builds companies. There are way more good ideas than people who can actually execute on them. We can’t bear the risk of funding an idea. We want to fund a company that needs help scaling and accelerating growth. This is better for entrepreneurs because they can work out all of the kinks in the product and the business. This way when you deserve investment, you get to keep more of the company.

2. What if you have a great idea that can change the world, but you can’t find the money to make it happen?

Honestly, in today’s world with all the resources available, if money is the only thing holding you back you probably are not going to be successful anyways. Look how Jobs and Gates made it happen. They both stole research out of here (PARC) and each created their own operating system. They worked out of their garage and coded on used worn down computers.

Being an entrepreneur is not making an even playing field. You need to find ways to tilt the field in your favor. Beg, borrow, steal, so be it. Part of being an entrepreneur is convincing others to buy into your concept. If your family and friends don’t believe in you, the chances that an investor will are slim.

3. How important do you think it is to have patents?

Patents mean nothing. They are only good for litigation purposes or to add value to the company when you get acquired. As a startup you don’t have to worry about either of these issues unless you are successful. Then if you are successful, you will have enough money anyways. So again it does not matter if you get sued or the company is valued for a few million more dollars.

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