Sweat Equity Media

Trying to shake off the lethargy of the 4th of July holiday weekend, I came across this inspirational comment by Excite co-founder Joe Kraus: “There’s never been a better time to be an entrepreneur because it’s never been cheaper to be one.”

Thanks to Paid Content for pointing me to Joe’s blog, Bnoopy. As he explains in his first post Bnoopy was the code name for Excite when he and some Stanford colleagues launched it a little over a decade ago. Excite soared for a time but ultimately crashed. Now Bnoopy is the forum where Joe shares lessons learned the hard way as he tries to get some altitude for his new startup, JotSpot. (Its FAQ describes JotSpot as a platform for building wikis to facilitate online collaborations.)

“Excite.com took $3,000,000 to get from idea to launch; JotSpot took $100,000,” Joe writes in his “great time to be an entrepreneur” post. He attributes this 30-fold reduction to cheaper hardware, free and robust open source applications, the ability to work with talented people anywhere in the world, and the ability to target advertising and promotion dollars through innovations such as keyword searches.

In an earlier post, Joe suggested that success, in the current Web environment, depended on finding and serving niches rather than mass markets. “Think about how to serve millions of markets of dozens instead of dozens of markets of millions,” he wrote. (That reminds me of what Tim O’Reilly and Dale Dougherty told me in an interview in 1995, when I wrote about their sale of Global Network Navigator to AOL. As I recall, they said something like: the Web is a thousand $1 million opportunities.)

To round out Joe’s advice, I found this nugget in yet another Bnoopy entry. Startups must set goals they can measure. These goals should be relative to the competition. Success is not simply launching this or that product on schedule. The effort must be timely and competitive.

Inspired? Well, here’s another thought from me. Everything I’ve seen and learned about Silicon Valley suggests that honest failure is common. It’s almost necessary and expected when trying new things. Learning from failure is the art. In this light, it’s never been a better time to be an entrepreneur because there’s never been a better time in which to fail.

Tom Abate
Cause if you ain’t Mass Media, you’re Mini Media