Sunday, December 19, 2010

Startups: It's hard work, don't be afraid to fail, think globally - Niklas Zennstrom, Skype co-founder

  • It’s hard work. When a business becomes successful seemingly overnight, no one knows about all the months and years you’ve invested, all the projects you’ve tried before that didn’t work.”
  • You shouldn’t be afraid of failure — when something fails, you think, ‘What did I learn from that experience, I can do better next time.’ Then kill that project and move on to the next. Don’t get disappointed.”
  • Often you’re the only one who believes in what you’re doing. Everyone around you will say, ‘Why not give up? Don’t you see it won’t work?’ You then have to find out, are they right or am I right? It took a year to raise money for Skype: we went to 26 different venture capitalists, asking for 1.5 million euros and prepared to give away a third of the company. But no one wanted to invest.”
  • Surround yourself with smart, dedicated people — to build something isn’t a one-man show. It’s more important to have smart people who really believe in what you’re doing than really experienced people who may not share your dream.”
  • Try to prove there are people actually interested in your product before you spend money building a business. Test it on your mother, sister, friends — I tried Skype on them very early on. Though you never know with the ‘mum test’ if they’re saying good things because they just want to be nice.”
  • Think globally. If you don’t think big, it’s unlikely you’ll become big. We made sure from day one that Skype was an international business — we were incorporated in Luxembourg, we had software developers in Estonia, we moved to London. The internet has no country boundaries.”

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