Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Startups and being relentlessly resourceful

Paul Graham wrote an insightful article, "Be Relentlessly Resourceful", that captures what I think is the most important characteristic for the founders of a startup. Some excerpts:
A couple days ago I finally got being a good startup founder down to two words: relentlessly resourceful.

Not merely relentless. That's not enough to make things go your way except in a few mostly uninteresting domains.

In any interesting domain, the difficulties will be novel. Which means you can't simply plow through them, because you don't know initially how hard they are; you don't know whether you're about to plow through a block of foam or granite. So you have to be resourceful. You have to have keep trying new things.

Be relentlessly resourceful.
Flickr is a great example of this. The company started as a massively multiplayer online game, failed at that, and morphed, in what appears to be pure grit and determination to succeed, into a photo sharing service.

More than any other characteristic, I think this is what to look for in the founding team of a startup, determination, flexibility, and willingness to do what it takes to succeed. As Paul says, be relentlessly resourceful.

Please see also Paul Graham's recent post, "Startups in 13 Sentences", that offers some other excellent advice for startups.

For a darker view on being relentlessly resourceful, please see my Nov 2006 post, "Ruthless enough for a startup?"


Dave said...

Okay, so what about us lazy people with great ideas? I know, for an absolute fact, that I am in no way relentlessly anything. My mind ping-pongs from one idea to the next, just a zippity-do-da kind of stride, and I'm not about to change.

This doesn't mean I don't have great ideas, ideas that would make awesome amounts of money, and change the world, if they were championed by those relentlessly resourceful people.

How is a guy like me suppose to meet some of these relentlessly resourceful people? Are my ideas destined to die, until the right people come up with them by themselves?

sampenrose said...

It is interesting to learn that, e.g., game developers who really really want to succeed can do so by changing into, e.g., purveyors of photo managment. I am not sure how this helps people who care what they succeed at.