(Note: Joel Spolsky, CEO of Fog Creek Software, Joel on Software and the Joel on Software Business of Software forum and co-Founder of Stack Overflow was kind enough to write the foreward for The Web Startup Success Guide.)
Last summer, Paul Graham invited me to stop by his place in Cambridge for an intimate dinner. Just him, his wife, and the founders of three dozen extremely young startups in the Y Combinator program, a bootcamp/incubator/angel investment thingy.
“Would you be willing to speak to these founders about, I don’t know, maybe pricing?” Paul asked me.
“Sure!” I said, and he whistled loudly to get everyone to quiet down.
I didn’t really have a speech prepared. There was no PowerPoint outline I could use as a crutch.
The room was jam packed. All eyes were on me. I didn’t know what I was going to say.
I thought I’d try a gambit.
“So…” I said. “Any questions?”
Ten hands shot up.
“Go ahead,” I said, pointing to a kid in the front row who, I imagine, had just gotten his braces off the week before.
And for almost two hours straight, these poor kids asked me the most basic questions imaginable about the business of startups. Pricing. Features. Marketing. Invoicing. They had so many questions.
I gave them as good a brain dump as I could on each topic. They sat raptly and asked intelligent follow up questions.
These were smart kids, mind you: usually top Computer Science graduates and plenty of experienced programmers. But for all their coding skills, they didn’t really know the first thing about make a business successful.
Which is OK. They’ll learn. It’s not that hard. The hardest part is realizing that even though you’re making an Internet company, writing the code and getting it to work is only a small part of the effort, and not necessarily the most critical one. The business side is just as crucial.
There’s a lot you’re going to need to learn to make your startup awesome. And this book that you hold in your hands, this very book, is a splendid introduction to the topic. Heck, I’ve been running Fog Creek for nine years now; I think I know a thing or two about a thing or two, and I learned something new on every page.
Every single page.
Yes, even that page with the interview of me.
This book is a fantastic resource for anyone doing a web startup or a software startup. Bob Walsh will teach you how to make your startup successful. Buy it, read it, put it under your pillow. Then buy copies for your cofounders. And go out there and nail it with a killer startup that makes the world a better place.
CEO, Fog Creek Software