How to Start a Startup // Paul Graham´s web site /// 0.3.2005

(This essay is derived from a talk at the Harvard Computer Society.)

You need three things to create a successful startup: to start with good people, to make something customers actually want, and to spend as little money as possible. Most startups that fail do it because they fail at one of these. A startup that does all three will probably succeed.

And that's kind of exciting, when you think about it, because all three are doable. Hard, but doable. And since a startup that succeeds ordinarily makes its founders rich, that implies getting rich is doable too. Hard, but doable.

If there is one message I'd like to get across about startups, that's it. There is no magically difficult step that requires brilliance to solve.


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Student´s Guide to Startups // Paul Graham´s web site /// 10.2006

Till recently graduating seniors had two choices: get a job or go to grad school. I think there will increasingly be a third option: to start your own startup. But how common will that be?

I'm sure the default will always be to get a job, but starting a startup could well become as popular as grad school. In the late 90s my professor friends used to complain that they couldn't get grad students, because all the undergrads were going to work for startups. I wouldn't be surprised if that situation returns, but with one difference: this time they'll be starting their own instead of going to work for other people's.

The most ambitious students will at this point be asking: Why wait till you graduate? Why not start a startup while you're in college? In fact, why go to college at all? Why not start a startup instead?

A year and a half ago I gave a talk where I said that the average age of the founders of Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft was 24, and that if grad students could start startups, why not undergrads? I'm glad I phrased that as a question, because now I can pretend it wasn't merely a rhetorical one. At the time I couldn't imagine why there should be any lower limit for the age of startup founders. Graduation is a bureaucratic change, not a biological one. And certainly there are undergrads as competent technically as most grad students. So why shouldn't undergrads be able to start startups as well as grad students?

I now realize that something does change at graduation: you lose a huge excuse for failing. Regardless of how complex your life is, you'll find that everyone else, including your family and friends, will discard all the low bits and regard you as having a single occupation at any given time. If you're in college and have a summer job writing software, you still read as a student. Whereas if you graduate and get a job programming, you'll be instantly regarded by everyone as a programmer.

The problem with starting a startup while you're still in school is that there's a built-in escape hatch. If you start a startup in the summer between your junior and senior year, it reads to everyone as a summer job. So if it goes nowhere, big deal; you return to school in the fall with all the other seniors; no one regards you as a failure, because your occupation is student, and you didn't fail at that. Whereas if you start a startup just one year later, after you graduate, as long as you're not accepted to grad school in the fall the startup reads to everyone as your occupation. You're now a startup founder, so you have to do well at that.


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Outsourcing Innovation // BusinessWeek Online /// 21.03.2006

As the Mediterranean sun bathed the festive cafés and shops of the Côte d'Azur town of Cannes, banners with the logos of Motorola (MOT), Royal Philips Electronics (PHG), palmOne (PLMO), and Samsung fluttered from the masts of plush yachts moored in the harbor. On board, top execs hosted nonstop sales meetings during the day and champagne dinners at night to push their latest wireless gadgets. Outside the city's convention hall, carnival barkers, clowns on stilts, and vivacious models with bright red wigs lured passersby into flashy exhibits. For anyone in the telecom industry wanting to shout their achievements to the world, there was no more glamorous spot than the sprawling 3GSM World Congress in Southern France in February.

Yet many of the most intriguing product launches in Cannes took place far from the limelight. HTC Corp., a red-hot developer of multimedia handsets, didn't even have its own booth. Instead, the Taiwanese company showed off its latest wireless devices alongside partners that sell HTC's models under their own brand names. Flextronics Corp. demonstrated several concept phones exclusively behind closed doors. And Cellon International rented a discrete three-room apartment across from the convention center to unveil its new devices to a steady stream of telecom executives. The new offerings included the C8000, featuring eye-popping software. Cradle the device to your ear and it goes into telephone mode. Peer through the viewfinder and it automatically shifts into camera mode. Hold the end of the device to your eye and it morphs into a videocam.


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The Entrepreneurship Ecosystem // Technology Review /// September.2005

The first speaker at the Tuesday evening meeting of the MIT Entrepreneurs Club in early May is Pat, a former corporate CFO who is here to talk about ways to find new investors for the rock-climbing gym he plans to expand to a second location.

Pat has no MIT connection, he says, other than his friendship with an MIT alumnus who has invested in his business and invited him to the meeting. But that doesn't matter to the E-Club members--mostly MIT undergraduates, grad students, and alumni who convene every week. They listen to Pat's presentation, ask detailed questions about his insurance and business plan, and offer suggestions and contacts.

Pat could be called an old-fashioned entrepreneur, one who must rely on his own resources when trying to meet potential business contacts. But the future of entrepreneurship--the MIT style of entrepreneurship--is embodied by the second speaker that evening, Ian MacDonald.

MacDonald is a student in the Leaders for Manufacturing program, a partnership among the Sloan School of Management, the School of Engineering, and industry, in which companies supply funds, internship opportunities, and expertise to students who are studying to become marketing and project managers in manufacturing businesses. MacDonald is at the E-Club meeting to test his presentation of the business plan he and his teammates have entered in MIT's annual $50K Entrepreneurship Competition. "It's an environment where you can get asked hard questions that are not devastating to your future progress," MacDonald says, because the people in the room aren't venture capitalists whose decisions on whether to fund a proposal could determine its fate.


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International kudos for York student by Mike Sefcik /// 16.06.2006

Michael Sefcik, a third-year York University student enrolled in the Law & Society Program in the Faculty of Arts, defines interdisciplinary excellence. The 22-year-old is an entrepreneur (he runs his own business called UNA-card); is an active participant in York’s debating society; wants to eventually work in public relations; was recently honoured for his scholarly work at an international business conference in Cologne, Germany; and can add the title of published author to his résume. Sefcik's metamorphosis from student to author began late last year, when he decided to enter the University of Cologne’s international essay competition. After finding the call for submissions on a listserv, Sefcik researched and wrote an essay on the topic of corporate transformation. He drew on his experience as a part-time store clerk at the North York IKEA store.  "IKEA has a newsletter that is circulated to all employees and it gave me an inside look at the corporation. I was able to learn about how the advertising generated by this Swedish company was targeted to Turkish residents. I analyzed the strategies and made recommendations in my paper," explained Sefcik. "For example, I suggested the company pursue a global online discussion forum to enable employees to share their experience, and to look at cross promotion beyond each store’s traditional geographic boundary to encourage, for example, North York clientele to go to the IKEA store in Etobicoke, Ontario."

The intrepid York student completed his analysis and submitted his finished paper to the judging committee. Then in early March, Sefcik was notified by the contest judges that his essay, titled "Survival Tactics in an Unpredictable Environment: An Analysis of IKEA’s Corporate Strategies in the New Global Market", had won first prize in the competition's international category.


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A los organizadores del Primer South American Business Forum… ¡Felicitaciones! por Alejandro Garibotti /// Septiembre.2005

Hace ya más de un año que surgió la idea del SABF entre alumnos del ITBA de esos pocos, y son siempre los mismos, que se comprometen, que idean, pero sobre todo, que hacen. Hoy los vemos en los pasillos triunfantes, orgullosos, luciendo esas ojeras que dicen, a quien sepa interpretarlas, que pusieron todo lo mejor de sí mismos, que hicieron incontables sacrificios en lo personal y en lo académico, y que valió la pena.

Como participante del SABF, y como estudiante del ITBA, escribo esta nota con el único objetivo de transmitirles la siguiente idea a los lectores de la comunidad ITBA:

Si son los alumnos quienes dan su prestigio al ITBA como universidad de excelencia, debemos agradecer, y ayudar en todo lo posible, a aquellos entre nosotros que con un empuje inexplicable llevan acabo proyectos como el SABF, dan a conocer nuestra facultad a nivel nacional e internacional, y con su ejemplo nos inspiran a llevar adelante también nuestros propios proyectos.

Pero a lo mejor algún lector se esté preguntando ¿Qué es el SABF? Podría responderle al lector con otras preguntas, como ¿Dónde estuvo usted el último año?, o ¿Acaso no vio los carteles, avisos en ITBA On Line y pancartas? Pero en cambio, responderé la pregunta: El SABF es un foro internacional de negocios para estudiantes, enfocado en los problemas de Sudamérica, y organizado con el apoyo del ITBA, que fue la universidad anfitriona. En su primera edición, y en base al tema "Los Desafíos de los Nuevos Líderes: Valores, Tecnología e Innovación", reunió a 70 estudiantes de distintas nacionalidades en el Hotel Sofitel de Buenos Aires y en el ITBA, seleccionados a partir de sus ensayos de entre cientos de aspirantes de todo el mundo. Hubo participantes de universidades de Buenos Aires y del interior, y de Alemania, Bolivia, Brasil, Chile, Colombia, EEUU, El Salvador, España, Francia, Paragüay, Perú, Singapur, etc. De entre todos los ensayos seleccionados se premiaron los tres mejores el día del cierre del foro.


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Iniciativa y coraje por Enrique Molina Pico /// Septiembre.2005

En los análisis relacionados con el proceso de formación de los ingenieros en el ITBA realizados en los últimos años, se tuvo especialmente en cuenta la situación socio-económica, no solamente argentina sino también mundial, y los esquemas productivos derivados en las distintas economías.

Se comprobó la tendencia generalizada a centrar la producción y los servicios en empresas de dimensión reducida y especializadas en su tarea, caracterizadas por su capacidad de adaptación a las condiciones cambiantes del entorno económico, al avance de la técnica y a los requerimientos del mercado.

Esa realidad exigía, y exige, nuevas capacidades en la formación profesional, constituyendo unas "condiciones de contorno" verdaderamente nuevas: el profesional de hoy debe no solamente dominar las ciencias básicas y las técnicas, sino que debe estar capacitado para integrarse a la sociedad y por sobre todo tener una capacidad de innovación y de búsqueda permanente, una verdadera "inquietud espiritual" que le permita mantenerse en la cresta de la ola de un mundo cambiante.

La "inquietud espiritual", o deseo de innovar, debe ser completada con una importante cuota de coraje para tomar decisiones riesgosas para poder convertir en realidad las ideas y proyectos.


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En busca de un nuevo liderazgo por José Luis Roces
/// Septiembre.2005

A mediados de agosto último, por iniciativa de un grupo de estudiantes de los últimos años de Ingeniería, el ITBA fue sede del South American Business Forum, el primer encuentro de estudiantes de la región y del resto del mundo en torno a la problemática del liderazgo.

La actividad fue importante y de gran repercusión. Los 580 interesados inicialmente se convirtieron con la presentación de una monografía en 168 aspirantes. El trabajo de un jurado de preselección, llevó a convertirlos en los 70 participantes.
El tema era la relación del liderazgo con los "valores-tecnología-innovación", o sea los ejes estratégicos de nuestra universidad.
Los trabajos presentados fueron de muy buen nivel y sirvieron finalmente para constituir un grupo de asistentes, cuyo perfil estuvo integrado por 25 extranjeros de 15 países (Alemania, Australia, Bolivia, Brasil, Colombia, Chile, España, EE.UU, Francia, India, Líbano, Paraguay, Singapur, Turquía y Venezuela) y 45 argentinos de universidades públicas y privadas de todo el país.

Este grupo tan representativo de la juventud y de los universitarios actuales se concentró durante tres días en seminarios y talleres con el objeto de ampliar su interpretación de las claves del nuevo liderazgo con miras a un mundo más equitativo y responsable.


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