Wanted to share a quick few thoughts from an event I attended earlier this week. I attended a meetup where Marc Cenedella of TheLadders.com and Vin Vacanti of Yipit.com shared their startup and entrepreneurship best practices.
The two key things that I took away from the discussion were around what Vin calls domain expertise and what Marc shared around opportunity cost, risk, and happiness:
Domain Expertise: Chances of succeeding in an industry or vertical for which you have no expertise in are slim. Want to launch a startup? Having a foundation in technical or design skills is essential. I have been seeing a lot of suits showing up to events wanting to start a company or join a startup but have no value add to the team. While they do have core business and sales skills many of them have the mindset of “I don’t need to learn how to code, that’s what the developer is for” or “I don’t need to know about design, UI or UX, that’s why I’ll hire a designer.” I do agree that if you do not have these skills it is critical to bring a CTO and designer onto the team, however, synergies can really be created when you have a solid foundation in coding and design. I am not saying you have to be an expert coder or designer, but having a good understanding of these elements can be a huge help and boost to your team’s productivity and success. For example, I can do do front end development and design and have a strong core understanding of coding and that, in addition to my business skills, has been a huge value add to the Animotion team. I am able to contribute to the product, coding, and design decisions we make as our awesome developer and designers continue building the UI and app.
Opportunity Cost and Risk: Marc and Vin are both really smart, ivy league guys. They both could have any kind of corporate job they want and be very comfortable for the rest of their lives. However, they both decided to take the risk and jump into entrepreneurship because at the end the day it’s what makes them happy–it’s self-fulfilling. Marc mentioned how compared to his peers in his Harvard MBA class that went on to work in Finance or Consulting, he probably gave up millions of dollars in potential earnings when starting TheLadders out of his East Village apartment. This message really resonated. You have to take the risk and realize the opportunity cost. However, the most important thing to being an entrepreneur is not the payout (which is great when it happens), but the potential to build something amazing, solve people’s problems, contribute to society, and most importantly, enjoy what you do EVERY day. I cannot find a single person I know that can say that they absolutely LOVE every day at their corporate jobs.
Things in the NYC startup scene are definitely heating up and I think its only going to continue to get bigger and better. If you want to get involved make sure to checkout the upcoming NYC Startup Weekend in June! I had an amazing experience there and its a great way to meet like-minded people looking to enter the startup world.
Drop your thoughts in comments below.