One of the reasons that I have not been blogging as much as I would have normally is that I am in the throws of a start up launch. We will be officially started on the new year, and I promise not to spam everyone with a PR note in your e-mail box extolling the wonderful new exciting start up that does things no one else can. Sorry, if I have learned anything from the blogosphere, or the echo chamber that some of us call the technology blogging press, it is that if you want to quickly offend a bunch of bloggers that will help make you or help break you, random PR notes in e-mail boxes are not the way to go.
My start up officially launches in January of 2011, but that does not mean I won’t be testing or trying things out. There are a couple of apps for the Iphone, Ipod and Ipad coming down the road that I will be working on beta testing. Android is a platform I can’t afford to ignore, and in the longer run, few of the folks I know are wondering if Windows Phone is a platform worth developing against. Sorry Microsoft, I have been and always will be a fan boy, but I need you to be where I am now, with a platform that is worth developing against based on market share. Right now the correct platforms to develop against are Apple and Android for applications and specialized readers for what we are building out for public consumption.
In the longer run though, with the publication of our third e-book, we have worked out a lot of chinks in the ebook publishing business. The publishing platforms are a disaster, each one requiring something different, meaning each product is a one off production for each delivery mechanism that we are working with. This increases costs well beyond what we were expecting, and unfortunately it looks like the epub specification has been implemented a dozen different ways. The bonus to all this is that we are retailing wonderfully (I’ll share more on that when the final December sales figures are in), and generally tightening things up for the official launch.
It has been a three year road to get here, three years in beta, making mistakes, failing horribly, learning from those fails, and then working out ways of making things work so that they are not huge failures going forward. I have great ideas, but all my ideas are not equally great. Some of what I have tried to do has ended up as some of the most abject failures I could image, good enough to be featured on fail blog, some days my technology solution looked a lot like this.
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That is probably one of the key points of being a start up – it is about failure, and it is about learning from those failures long before it gets into the hands of the public. If you are not using your own alpha and beta 1 versions of your product, then it is time to fold up shop and go on to something else. The downside to this start up is that it has been impossible to blog on any kind of regular basis, along with the loss of the primary paycheck goes the loss of a lot of time because your own start up is 24X7, you are on all the time, especially when you are young, impressionable, and agree with Louis Gray that sleep is over rated.
The other thing I have learned is get the lawyers involved early, you might be awesomely brilliant technically, but when it comes to the law, the best money you will spend is getting involved with a start up lawyer. They might not be cheap, you might have something else you could do with the three grand you will give to the lawyer, but when it comes to trademarking, when it comes to setting up the patent, when it comes to company formation, give that to the experts. It is quite simply the best money you will spend early on with your company. Especially if you are bringing in partners, outsiders, Angel investors, or VC’s, you want a known quantity in your corner that gets all the legal language.
Start ups can be a riot good time, they can also be a lot of work. The good part is that this is work for yourself, not working for someone else. If you are working for yourself and you have a problem with management, it is time to go to Starbucks, have a cup of coffee and give yourself a stern talking too. Try doing that in the normal corporate grind and you will see what I mean.
More notes to follow, and these are just my observations of the start up process, as they say, your mileage might vary.