This morning, I went to Harvard in Cambridge, MA and attended the free Startup School that was put together by Y Combinator. It was interesting to say the least. Right now, it doesn’t fit into my personal business goals, but it was definately worth attending for a little while at least. My biggest problem with it was that I didn’t really hear anything that I’d never heard before. I’ve worked in three different startups as a full time employee in my life. The ideas of getting investor funding, angels, intellectual property, and the stages of funding are not new to me, nor is developing a product as quickly as possible to get it out the door.
When I was living in Rochester, NY I attended a similar venture capitalist meeting so I’ve seen what they look for. I was even allowed to sit in the room and listen to the initial conversation as they evaluated a presentor. It’s amazing how casual investors are when they’re doing initial evaluations of ideas after nothing more than a five minute presentation. From what I saw, the only thing they did was make a decision whether they were interested at all or not, and whether they wanted to hear more. In the case that I witnessed, the presenter wasn’t particularly outstanding, he was obviously a bit nervous, but he knew what he was talking about.
But again, I can’t stress how casual the whole meeting was.
As for myself, during the course of the presentations at the Startup School , I couldn’t help but think about all of the work that I wasn’t getting done on my own company while I was sitting there listening to the presenters. Moon River Software is so very close to launching its first product, that the day could easily have been better used working on those final tasks.
So, although I took copious notes on things that I largely knew anyway, I left early. I’m sure there’s something important that I could have learned and I would have liked to hear what the engineers from Google had to say, but there’s another part of being a startup company that I didn’t hear anyone talk about.
You have to learn how to filter information quickly to save time and place it into two distinct categories. The first is what needs to get done right this minute. The other is what you can safely ignore for the time being, knowing that you’ll likely need to learn it later on and will take a bit more time to do so. The presentations simply weren’t going fast enough for me to filter effectively.
In the meantime, I’ll be working on Milestones.