This article was published on October 16, 2013

Launching a startup? Read this advice from successful entrepreneurs and leaders

Launching a startup? Read this advice from successful entrepreneurs and leaders
Martin SFP Bryant
Story by

Martin SFP Bryant


Martin Bryant is founder of Big Revolution, where he helps tech companies refine their proposition and positioning, and develops high-qualit Martin Bryant is founder of Big Revolution, where he helps tech companies refine their proposition and positioning, and develops high-quality, compelling content for them. He previously served in several roles at TNW, including Editor-in-Chief. He left the company in April 2016 for pastures new.

For me, one of the highlights of the recent The Next Web Conference USA was a chance to chat on stage to Soraya Darabi, co-founder of Foodspotting and now her new venture, about the lessons she’s learned from launching two startups.

As part of her preparation, Darabi asked a variety of Internet entrepreneurs for their own tips and picked out a couple of quotes from notable leaders. We didn’t have time to share them all on stage at the conference, so Soraya has kindly collected them here for us. If you’re preparing to launch a startup, or just want some inspiration to do so, read on…

“It’s a noisy world out there.  Make sure your product can stand out in a crowd, that it serves a need, and comes at a time when people are ready for it. ‘Done’ is no longer better than ‘perfect’, as the old tech adage states.  You only launch once, and you must make it count.”

– Soraya Darabi, Co-Founder of

“Great teamwork is the only way we create breakthroughs that define our careers.”

– Pat Riley, President of the Miami Heat NBA team

“Your job is to create the best team. It’s not to execute. I spent over 60% of my time trying to improve the talent on my team at all levels. The one thing I know is that you win with good people.”

– Don Shula, NFL legend

“We defined our culture very early on. We hire people we really like over more talented people, and we let go of top performers because they were disrupting the environment.”

– Wiley Cerelli of Single Platform

“If you have a disruptive startup, the majority of people will initially dismiss it. You must have the resilience and persistence to rise above the naysayers and achieve ultimate success.”

– Steve Lee, Product Director, Google Glass

“Focus on your product. Who it’s for. What it does. Why it matters. Creating a quality product doesn’t come from years of experience. It comes from a laser focused view of the one thing that you and your team are going to do better than anyone else. I’m not a big believer in the ‘if you build it, they will come’ mentality, but if you don’t build it really well, they definitely won’t.”

– Suzanne Xie, Founder of Hullabalu

“It’s not about the launch, it’s about what you do immediately after to start the product-to-market fit process. Why? Because you’re definitely not nailing it on the first try.”

– Dan Grunberg of

“You will meet a lot people and hear so many voices – investors, potential partners, board members.  Many will have firm ideas on how you should run your business.  Listen carefully as some of them will become part of the puzzle, just remember that you eventually own it and it’s your voice that truly matters.”

– Asi Burak, President of Games for Change

3 thoughts:

“The desire to get press when a site/product goes live is flawed. ‘News’ is relative to when it is announced, not when it happened. Wait for it…”

“To focus more on something you must focus less on something.”

“Time sorts most things out.”

– Scott Belsky, Co-Founder/ CEO of Behance

“In competitive markets, it’s easy to get hung up trying to match your competitors feature for feature. Think for yourself and invest energy into something that addresses a need and takes a stab at changing the game entirely instead of something that makes incremental improvements.

“Figure out what will provide the most value by looking for patterns across your users actions — don’t chase the competition. Then work fast to implement and execute; what you don’t do today, someone else will.”

– Matt Galligan of Circa News

“Minimum Viable Product — launch launch launch! Don’t stew around planning. Put something out there to see what the market will bear. Test on your friends. Also: Customers are better than investors.”

– Nick Gray, founder of Museum Hack

“Introduce the company / product through a credible source. We launched Harrys with a feature in GQ .We had sophisticated grooming editors test the product and having them speak to the benefits of the product was an incredibly strong early signal for the brand and gave us instant credibility in the eyes of early discerning customers.”

– Jeff Raider, founder of Harry’s

“Relationships matter. Rely heavily on your networks– your friends, the friends of your friends, and the friends of your friends’ friends. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, call in those favors. What goes around comes around so hopefully you have been nice and helpful to a whole lot of people over the years!”

– Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, Founder, Gilt

“Simplify, simplify, then simplify again. The hardest part about gaining traction as a startup with limited resources is getting people to tell your story. Focus on what you do 10X better than any other company and use that to differentiate.

“If you can’t describe what your company does or stands for in 10 seconds, no one else will. This goes for messaging on your website, packaging, etc. Its easy to get sucked into adding additional features, products, designs, distribution partners but those opportunities will always be there later.”

 Dave Gilboa, Co-Founder of Warby Parker

Catch up with all our coverage from The Next Web Conference USA.

Image credit: Jose Antonio Perez

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