Ideas vs execution

It’s well understood that ideas are one thing but execution is everything.

The execution part is pretty comprehensive as we all know. It’s about obsessing on the user experience, team building, product development, dealing with heartaches & setbacks, growth and turning a dream into a real company. 

That’s why I have trouble investing in companies that are born from the ideas of great founders but who don’t actually want to join the startup. These founders want to create but not operate. 

You see this happen within various universities. A brilliant faculty member comes up with an audacious, powerful idea and wants to form a company & raise venture capital. That’s great but not necessarily sufficient. The next part is they ought to commit to the venture in a meaningful way. That’s key. Universities need to encourage faculty members by giving them “startup credit” for their path to tenure (instead of limiting it to traditional things like grants & publications).  

I’ve also seen this happen outside of the university as well. 

Now, the counter arguement could be, “hey, bijan, venture capitalists spread out the risk, why shouldn’t we?”

Fair question and for better or worse here’s my response:

1. It’s harder to be an entrepreneur than a VC. The risk and reward is much more dramatic. Given all of that I believe entrepreneurs need to be focused on one company at a time.

2. As a VC I am working for one firm. I’m not a VC at one firm, and at the same time an entrepreneur working on a few side projects in parallel. My LPs wouldn’t go for that and I wouldn’t be doing my partners any favors either. Plus, it would be a distraction from the work that I love. 

But to be honest, I had the easy task. Arguing for lean startups in front of a web crowd is like arguing for smaller government in front of a bunch of republicans. Not much argument there.

A VC

great line :)

It’s hard to do two things at once

Yesterday i attended TechCrunch Disrupt.

It was fun seeing old friends and meeting new startups.

I was also on a panel of “judges” where we heard from the startups and we had the opportunity to ask questions and offer feedback.

They were all impressive presentations and it was clear they all practiced quite a bit and were prepared.

The one thing I saw that I’m not a fan of his the “two things at once” approach. That’s when an early stage startup builds a company for consumers and enterprise at the same time.

Startups are hard enough even when everyone is focused on one thing. It’s gets even harder when the company tries to be all things to all customers.

So I tried to make hammer on this point yesterday and I’ll say it again. Focus on one thing and nail it.

(sorry for lack or links and typos. Wrote this on my iPhone.)

Sitting at the gate and thinking about LOST

I’m sitting here at the gate a bit early for my flight to laguardia. The LOST finale is still sinking in.

I’ve been loyally watching LOST all these years. That first episode grabbed me and I couldn’t shake it loose season after season.

But I have some questions from the earlier seasons that I can’t figure out.

So here goes:

  1. What was the significance of the “numbers” from season 1.

  2. What was the deal of the button? Why did they have to keep pressing it?

  3. How did the polar bears get to the island and where did they go?

  4. Why could Jacob come and go from the island but not the Man in Black

  5. When “the others” captured jack and team and put them in cages and in the glass room, how did they know so much about them.

  6. Why did Desmond run over Lock outside the school. To get him to see jack?

  7. Why did “the others” take the kids in the first or second episode? And what happened to them ?

Ok, time to board my flight so that’s it (for now)

Feel free to add your own questions in the comments … or maybe we should just all move on :)

Android for Mobile Just Keeps Getting Better

Less than two weeks ago, i wrote a post about the challenges of Android being sort of stuck in the middle. The middle between two extremes – iPhone and Blackberry.

But after last weeks Google I/O conference, I’m more excited than ever about Android for Mobile for two important reasons:

1. Developers. Android is now activating 100k mobile phones per day. That’s huge and if you are a developer you need to pay attention to that.

2. Android Platform. They released several new usability features but the platform is getting very interesting, particularly the Cloud to Device API. I first read about this on Daring Fireball and then I went over the Google project page for C2DM and read up on the details. John Gruber points out  examples of how C2DM is going to work:

Buy an app (or song, or anything) from the Android Marketplace using a PC web browser, select one of your Android devices, and the item you just purchased will be pushed directly to that device over the air.

Take the current URL from your PC web browser and push it to your device, over the air. If it’s a web page, it’ll open in the Android web browser; if it’s a Google Maps URL, it’ll open in the Android Maps app.

Developers are going to have a field day with that API and I can’t wait.