Due to some recent work drama, I was privy to a list of key things you can’t do when you leave a startup. Here’s the list:
- Don’t poach people (including a co-founder in a new venture)
- Don’t take bizdev, IP, or other insider info
- Don’t blast the company or its VCs in the press/blogs/media
- Don’t shop your shares (exercised options) unless there’s a way to do it through the company
This list was described as a set of “social norms” within the Valley that are a “huge sin” if not followed.
The first item is the most surprising, as I constantly hear stories about friends leaving a company (both big and small) to go work on their own idea. It’s part of the myth of Silicon Valley, isn’t it?
#2 and #3 seem obvious and generally good practice in life. #4 I have no data points on.
If you have any feedback or thoughts, I’d love to hear it.
Startup2Startup hosted a talk by Naval Ravikant, one of the guys behind Venture Hacks and the original founder of Epinions, a precursor to the PowerReviews idea. Here’s a link to the video, filled with two minutes of great insight on what a startup needs.
Things to look for in a startup:
- the team – some of the best in the field
- the market – must be huge because the first idea rarely works and you need room to maneuver
- proprietary / difficult technology – something that compounds over time into a distinct competitive advantage
- proprietary distribution channel – some sort of viral marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), or partnerships
- direct monetization model – not just joining an ad network
The technology description is important – most ideas I hear (and come up with) are pretty straight-forward. Anyone who knows Python or Ruby on Rails can come up with a basic database-backed site. Is there any real complexity to what you’re trying to do that two folks in an apartment can’t copy in three months?