Startups Need to Control Their Own Destiny

Ed Sim writes: “Big companies move slowly and often change their minds. A relationship with a big company will surely take time and cost you money whether in upfront dollars or expenditures on resources. And while we would all love to build our business off the back’s of other brands and distribution, at the end of the day, in order to create a big winner, it is imperative for startups to control their own destiny. This means that your business has to be able to grow organically and not have its fate fully dependent on its partners. What this means is that first and foremost you have to have a killer product, one that people love, can’t live without, and share with others. In this new world of mashups, open APIs, and widgets, startups can easily get distribution. Getting customers and revenue is a different story altogether. Remember, distribution doesn’t matter if people don’t use your product or service so start with the basics and figure out how to make your product a must have that someone will pay for.”

Email and Productivity

Fred Wilson writes about two ideas to boost (!) productivity by limiting the use of email:

* Turn off the email notification alert in Outlook. I used to think it was really cool. Turn it off and watch your productivity soar while doing stuff on your PC.

* Set your mobile device – Blackberry in my case- to only buzz you from a seriously select few people, like family. With the 8800 (and Pearl I would guess), you can set very granular ring tones/alerts for virtually everybody’s inbound email/phone. Essentially be ruthless in defining what’s really immediate/important.

Predicting Hits

The New York Times has an essay by Duncan Watts: “As anyone who follows the business of culture is aware, the profits of cultural industries depend disproportionately on the occasional outsize success a blockbuster movie, a best-selling book or a superstar artist to offset the many investments that fail dismally. What may be less clear to casual observers is why professional editors, studio executives and talent managers, many of whom have a lifetime of experience in their businesses, are so bad at predicting which of their many potential projects will make it big. How could it be that industry executives rejected, passed over or even disparaged smash hits like Star Wars, Harry Potter and the Beatles, even as many of their most confident bets turned out to be flops? It may be true, in other words, that nobody knows anything, as the screenwriter William Goldman once said about Hollywood. But why? Of course, the experts may simply not be as smart as they would like us to believe. Recent research, however, suggests that reliable hit prediction is impossible no matter how much you know a result that has implications not only for our understanding of best-seller lists but for business and politics as well.”