there hasn’t been a day in the past 6 years where I haven’t been thinking about technology and startups. sophomore year of high school, I started blogging (posterous), tweeting and diving into the growing Boston tech scene.
one of my first cold emails was to Nick (formerly Sparkcloud, now Wefunder). the second outreach went to Sean Broderick of Techstars Boston as they were preparing for their second class in Central Sq. that conversation led to a final round interview with Tim Falls (formerly TS Boulder, now Sendgrid)
some funny notes that I distinctly remember from that “early time”
- DartBoston was rolling along steadily
- TS was the only accelerator in town
- Mark Bao was in high school selling websites
- Daniel Bru was blogging for techcrunch
- Boston based Springpad was battling it out with Evernote
- Thesixtyone was a daily music visit
- Gary V’s Wine Library Videos were in full swing
- My first exposure to SXSW was watching Robert Scroble livestream his bar crawl
- SCVNGR was competing with Gowalla and Foursquare
the reason I was so enthralled with tech was how fast things moved and how approachable both the products and people were. as is the case today, building an impactful tech business is largely a factor of speed (execution, getting to market, changing, learning). contrast this to the “knowledge” one was forced to consumer in an academic, albeit rigorous, setting and you can understand why a hyperactive teen would rather go online and explore. most importantly (this truly blew my mind), you could observe and communicate with the actual CEO, co-founder, VP behind the amazing thing you used on a daily basis. i still feel like this is one of magical qualities the industry has.
in the early days I couldn’t get enough of new projects and startups…to this day that largely holds true as well. the thing was, if it was a startup - I was fan. a big one. I wanted to be as an early adopter as one could be. I wanted to support them and spread the word. I wanted to communicate with the team. due to my natural inexperience and bleeding enthusiasm, I frankly couldn’t even take a stab at evaluating the team, product, market, etc. it didn’t matter.
nowawadays, I feel that same enthusiasm fading away ever so slightly. it’s been a bit more difficult to unequivocally praise everyone taking a stab at starting their own thing. you start to realize after reading thousands of articles, meeting dozens of people, watching hundreds of hours of interviews and personally using hundreds of products that not all people and ideas are the same. there are wantrepreneurs, grin fuckers, naive and talented, longtime operators with domain experience, truly talented veterans out there competing…and that list goes on and on.
a friend and I recently were chatting about this situation and how we should process it or take action (if at all). after all, we work in early stage tech and certainly want to be supportive and optimistic.
she had a nice analogy that fit the situation quite well.
she compared it to fitness levels. she asked what would I think if was to I see an overweight person venturing out on a run and I said “fuck yeah, good for them”. “how about a normal or athletic individual?” same thing. “fuck yeah or props or damn, impressive or I should be out there”
the form of the inexperienced runner may be way off. the normal person may be not be properly planning their training routine. the advanced runner may not be not doing enough preventive medicine. who knows.
the point being is that regardless of experience, skill level or motivation - these different and unique groups are out there challenging themselves. they are doing the uncomfortable thing to grow. bottomline is. they were JFDI and that’s the first ingredient on a path to success. [fist bump]
no one knows the future and where these paths may take them. everyone started somewhere and it sometimes it takes the most unlikely of people in the most unlikely circumstances to do something special.