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Startup Homeruns

I go for homeruns, not singles. I want to knock it out of the park. The problem with that is homeruns are very high risk. The chance of a homerun is significantly lower than simply getting on first base. I don’t want to stop dreaming for the homerun, but more training is in order to get there. I really should focus on getting a hit, rather than the homerun — but I’m driven to practice for the homerun, rather than just a hit.

There is a trail of dead startups behind me and a money trail that I have burned through. There are years of things I have tried building and failing. On one hand, failure does equal experience and lessons. On the other hand, it’s been an expensive education by not programming these ideas myself…

Extendy, Boughtly, ViewCues, ifluencer, Trackable Links, Sme, InSeconds, ThankYouTroops, PinkPinky, MyFavorites v1, MyFavorites v2 (haven’t given up on this yet), and there are more.

As much as I have read and heard the same thing over and over and over again in the past 12+ years, I want to say it has never really sunk in or I have just never really “got it.” That one thing is “work on a problem you have, that you want a solution for, that you are the user of.” MyFavorites is the closest to this. It is a problem I have — is it a big problem? Not necessarily. It’s something fun, entertaining, and would help me learn more about my friends (and anyone) and discover new stuff (beer, books, local plumber, etc).

I have found myself working on ideas over the years that I think can be homeruns, but they really haven’t been problems — or rather, big problems of mine. As a most-times unrealistic entrepreneur that swings for the fences, it’s my reading about the sensationalized homeruns in the press (Twitter, etc) that have skewed my attention towards working on my startup ideas that I think could be sensationalized homeruns. But it’s all fiction and theory in my mind — because typically the idea isn’t even solving a problem I have!

So I pledge to only work on a startup in the future if it’s solving a real problem I have. Hopefully the idea won’t fade out in a few months as all the others have, when I find myself wondering what the heck I’m doing. It’s a recipe for disaster when you’re making up a problem. A successful startup should lead to 5-10+ years of working on a solution for a problem, so I better have a real problem that I believe in fixing. I don’t know if that means I’ll be swinging for the homeruns anymore or not — I guess it’ll depend on the problem at hand.

  • Rob Reeves

    My problem is that smart phones are killing email but haven’t replaced it with anything. I admit that texting is probably best for social things and the workplace is its own special situation, but I often need to coordinate volunteers for various organizations. People don’t know how to have a phone conversation anymore and don’t answer the phone anyway or return (or even listen to) voice mails. Emails are read immediately (when the reader is not prepared to respond) and immediately forgotten. I find myself turning postcards these days. Really. What is the next solution for communicating important information that requires a timely response?

  • http://stevepoland.com/about Steve Poland

    Facebook groups? Group texting like Kik (although smart phones needed and
    everyone using that app). Emailing lists like Google Groups?

    I agree there is a void. People all have different mediums they prefer-
    texts, emails, facebook messages, phone calls,… postal mail. My Dad is 99%
    voice phone calls and 1% email– no facebook, no texts. I wish he would do
    my preferred mediums, it would strengthen our ties- both ways, I would know
    more about him and he of me on day-to-day basis, but he refuses to adapt. I
    often wonder if my kids will have some new medium come in that I wont adapt
    too- I mean, texts and facebook are two major changes since the telephone
    that ruled for like 50 years.

  • http://twitter.com/LexInterior Alexis Peterka

    The trail of failed startups that follow me like rabbit poops are mostly the result of not really caring about what I’m working on. I followed someone else’s passion, and was never able to convincingly articulate its value to someone else.

    I always thought I just sucked at pitching, until I started pitching something I actually gave a crap about. Now when I talk about what I’m working on, peoples eyes light up. They really get it, and it’s lovely.

    Am I swinging for the fences? Not really. In fact, the end goal is goofily utopian “love your neighbor” warm fuzzies. But at least now my work feels effortless, instead of trying to use an elliptical machine with one leg four inches shorter than the other.

  • http://stevepoland.com/about Steve Poland

    I agree alexis- most were not my passion either.

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  • Dominik

    How about working on real problems like inefficient income distribution and political corruption and acceptability to the electorate.

    These are the biggest problems in modern big govt & multinational corp dominated societies.

    Doubt any of the current generation will focus on this. However I am glad that there has been such a great focus on improving health and lifespans.