Web 1.0 Entrepreneurs: we are roadkill unless we learn to run as fast as today’s founders.

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Entrepreneurs / Incubators and Accelerators / Uncategorized

New companies are being created at stunning speed by today’s founders.  If you can’t keep up, you are dead.

As you may have gathered from my blog, I’ve spent the last couple of months visiting with companies and incubators.  My key takeaway–companies are being created faster and more cheaply than I would have believed possible.

Let me give you a few examples:

SwingbySwing Golf  created an iPhone/Android app that lets golfers use the GPS in their phone to measure distance to the hole and track statistics.  Three full time developers and no marketing spend.  They are nearing 1mm registered users.  Oh, and did I mention that their users have mapped 35,000 courses in 127 countries?

TripTrotting  recruited thousands of local travel guides for their site.  You can go to virtually any city in the world and meet a local who will tell you about their city.  For free.  They did it entirely through social networking.  No wonder they just raised $1mm.

inLife  signed up dozens of merchants in Santa Barbara for their activity site.  How?  One of the founders wrote a Python script that sent out custom emails to a list they had developed.  The emails were so tailored, that many merchants called back to thank them for the personal attention.  There are 3 people on their team.

ProNoise (People’s Republic of Noise) built their indie music site (launching soon)  with 3 developers, and will launch a less than two months after joining StartEngine.  They are already signing up major partners, and are in touch with some of the biggest names in the LA music scene.  Capital to date?  $20k from StartEngine, and a lot of sweat equity from the founders.

All of these companies cranked out an app or site and launched within a few months, and they produce new iterations at blazing speed.  If they get it wrong, the next version launches in a few weeks.  The rate of change is unbelievable.

Remember how we used to do it?  Get Angel capital and build a prototype.  Then get VC funding, rent a cool space, hire a big team, rebuild and relaunch.  It took month and years.

Not any more.

The teams I’m seeing build and launch in months with virtually no money.  They are doing to today’s ecommerce companies what ecommerce did to brick and mortar.  Will they all work?  Of course not.  But so many companies are being launched so fast that probability tells you that there will be major winners.

One of my friends, an Overture veteran and successful entrepreneur,  raised the objection that these are all little “lightweight” apps and sites.  True enough, none of them are building giant pieces of infrastructure.  Then I asked him where he placed his last online order.  “On an app that’s on my iPad.”  …..Yeah.

If you don’t want to be roadkill, go to an incubator/accelerator and take a tour or spend some time with a twenty-something founder.   The game has changed.  Again.

Many, many thanks to Jim Armstrong of Clearstone who insisted that I needed visit an incubator or two.  “I told you so” doesn’t begin to cover it.


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