Vivek Ravisankar

The feeling of insecurity crops up quite a number of times when starting up, especially in the early days. It’s both exciting and scary, like how an 8-year old kid feels when left home alone the first time, for a couple of hours. This fear sometimes affects the self-confidence which makes everyone around you appear to be bigger in stature.

Once this mindset is in, everything what the other person says sounds like gold. Naturally, when you meet 20 people in an event, you get a feeling as though you just got access to 20 pots of gold and you want to try out everything that was told to you. The truth is most of them might not apply to you or can even be plain stupid.

I remember an incident where a very senior marketing manager of an MNC asked me to advertise interviewstreet on radio channels. It might sound really stupid now, but not then when I seriously considered. Thankfully, I was bootstrapping so didn’t have enough money to spend on it.

With this mindset, you tend to sort the ideas by the people who advised rather than the ideas themselves which can lead to disasters if the person doesn’t understand your position. What worked for X doesn’t need to work for Y even though both X & Y might be operating in the same space, environment, etc. The potential of founders, co-incidental meetings (eg: Zuck with Sean Parker) and a bunch of other factors play in which aren’t accounted for when providing advice.

You (and your co-founder) are the only one in the world who understands completely about what’s going on in your startup and things that can/can’t be done. This is not to say don’t talk/listen to anyone around, that’s the most terrible thing one can ever do. This is a a heads-up on “executing” the suggestions you received.

How to execute suggestions/advice?
Talk to a lot of people, read blogs, brainstorm with your mentors, discuss with fellow entrepreneurs, experienced people in your field, etc. Assimilate all the suggestions in your whiteboard without associating any source. Analyze each one of them deeply and see which ones make the most sense for your startup.

One interesting correlation I’ve found with the suggestions I implement is they’ve always come from people I deeply respect/admire because their suggestions seems to carry a reasoning behind it and not something blind. But that’s just me, it might not be the case for you.

Every startup is unique. Derive inspiration, talk to a lot of people but execute/experiment what you think makes sense.