When I started Feedster back in 2003, I ended up taking a very, very traditional startup route:
Along the way I also was lucky enough to:
- Meet Great People
- Learn from those people
I haven't talked about Feedster and any of those learnings, well, ever. They have been rattling around my brain over the past ten years while I focused on my technical skills but now some of them are starting to come out.
Among those people were the circa 2003 to 2006 web 2.0 people like Dave, Dave, Matt, Brad and others. Today I want to talk about Mark Fletcher. Mark was the founder of BlogLines and what he did was smart. He didn't raise money at all. He self funded and kept control. That let him, when the time was right, take whatever acquisition deal was right for himself and see close to 100% of it accrue to his personal bottom line. Me? I was on a constant fund raising cycle. And that sucked. Now Rafer took care of most of it but it was a constant distraction.
I don't care what anyone says, success in silicon valley is measured in financial terms. And the bigger the deal, the greater your success is perceived. Unfortunately that's often an incorrect assumption. With a co-founder, a hired CEO and after dilution from multiple fund raising rounds, unless you sell for an enormous amount of money, often even a "huge" deal can net the founders very, very little on a personal basis. Kareem Mayan talks about this better than I can with some eye opening examples of how big a deal can be and how little you can personally see as the entrepreneur. Search for the Heidi Roizen quote.
Me? I ended up walking away from Feedster as the only person who actually made any money from it (to the best of my knowledge). It wasn't much but cash positive is always good.
My take away from Mark: Fund it yourself; keep control. There's a balance here obviously. Not everything can be self funded but given the changes in the industry - AWS - far more can be done by yourself than was even dreamt of 10 years ago.