Founders at Work

foundersatworkAm currently reading, and very much enjoying Founders at Work by Jessica Livingston of Y Combinator.

It’s basically lots of interviews with founders of companies that were once startups about what life was like in the early days.

The book’s blurb sells it well:

Founders at Work is a collection of interviews with founders of famous technology companies about what happened in the very earliest days. These people are celebrities now. What was it like when they were just a couple friends with an idea? Founders…tell you in their own words about their surprising and often very funny discoveries as they learned how to build a company.

It’s an impressive list of people, too, including:

There loads more too. What I like is the mix of new digital startups and some stories from earlier in the story of the technology based startup, particularly around the time of the birth of the personal computer and software industry.

Funnily enough, as I started typing this post, I got notification that Tim Dobson had written a book review post of this very tome! It’s well worth a read through his detailed notes, but his concluding paragraph sums the whole book up well:

As a book, it comes across as well written, and is full of genuinely interesting interviews. If you’re interested in the history, or how some of these companies and startups came into existence, or you’re interested in learning what people feel they did right… and wrong, then have a read through it.

What is always interesting to think about when reading this type of material is what those of us working in larger organisations can learn from startup culture and the way these scrappy little companies work.

A common theme of Founders at Work is the role that luck can play in the success of a startup. However, equally important is determination – a refusal to accept failure – and linked to that, flexibility – so when one route looks like it won’t work, pick another and have another go.

Five for Friday – 21 March 2014

linksFive for Friday is WorkSmart’s weekly roundup of interesting stuff from the week’s reading.

  1. Can People Collaborate Effectively While Working Remotely?
  2. 7 Predications for the Future of Work
  3. Startup culture hacks
  4. The power of technology for learning and why creating together is better
  5. Are we finally seeing the death of “social”?
Did you know that WorkSmart has a Pinterest board where loads of cool stuff is shared?

Five for Friday – 14 March 2014

linksFive for Friday is WorkSmart’s weekly roundup of interesting stuff from the week’s reading.

  1. About change, defaults and disruption – “large organisations are racing against start-ups to stay relevant”. Great stuff from Anne McCrossan
  2. Creating a minimum viable product using WordPress – Chris Lema on using WordPress to throw together prototype services
  3. 5 More Unexpected Ways to Work Smarter, Not Harder – useful ideas. Thanks to Dan Slee for the link.
  4. Is it time to quit your job and launch that new start up? – nice video from Bethnal Green Ventures via the Nominet Trust
  5. Forrester argues piecemeal digital transformation won’t work – interesting research. Lovely quote: “Dabbling with digital isn’t the route to success”.
Did you know that WorkSmart has a Pinterest board where loads of cool stuff is shared?

Linkydink and MVPs

LinkydinkLinkydink is a lovely little service that does one thing very well. It allows people to add links to a group and for a daily list of the links collected to be emailed out to subscribers.

It is run by Makeshift, a fantastic company in London that seems to churn out excellent little tools such as this.

You could produce something similar to Linkydink by stitching together various other tools. Perhaps people could used Pinboard and Delicious to save links with a shared tag, and then use the RSS feed from the tag to pre populate a Mailchimp email newsletter… but I’ve lost you already, haven’t I?

Another thing I like about Linkydink is the access anyone has to the roadmap for the service – so users can know where it is heading and what new features are going to be implemented next.

It’s a great example of running projects in an agile, lean fashion. In fact I came across Linkydink in an article on PandoDaily (which despite the odd title is probably the best of the technology and startup focused blogs at the moment), which described digital companies that started without a single line of code being written.

In the article it is explained how someone used Linkydink to test the idea for their startup – which was a subscriber list of links to … In the parlance of the lean startup, this is an MVP, a minimum viable product. It’s the simplest, quickest and cheapest way to get a product on the market so you can start testing it, building up a customer base, and so on.

Sometimes to test the viability of an idea, it’s best to just do it – as simply as possible – so you can get some real world data on whether or not it is going to fly. Linkydink definitely does that and hopefully it is popular enough for Makeshift to keep working on it.

Link roundup

I find this stuff so you don’t have to:

Link roundup

I find this stuff so you don’t have to:

Link roundup

I find this stuff so you don’t have to:

Link roundup

I find this stuff so you don’t have to: