Friday, April 01, 2005

Year 1 at Jobster: what I've learned about building a company from scratch

Exactly one year ago today, I started as the first employee of Jobster. Although I was the first hire, Marty and I started together on April 1st. I remember the day pretty clearly.

Had you told me that one year later we would be 42 employees and just days passed the wildly successful commercial launch of our service and staring at a tidal wave of F1000 demand, I would not have believed it. There goes Jobster again, exceeding even my most optimistic expectations.

Here are just a few of things that I have observed- things I think have distinguished the Jobster story and kept us on track:
  • There are no sacred cows. Always be willing to re-evaluate your plans, assertions, and strategies based on customer learning. Taking a business concept and iterating it over and over leaves room for "over iterated," a.k.a. loosing touch with the fundamentals of the opportunity at hand. Pride, ego, or the love of one's own ideas cannot get in the way of developing a sound business idea. Be okay with the fact that your business concept may iterate to a point of not being recognizable from its source.
  • Implement forcing functions. There are times when a team can get caught in quick sand and not seem to make much progress for a while. It may be a standstill in good ideas, it may be the discovery of a show stopping issue, etc. There are a lot of reasons for the onset of quick sand. A forcing function provides a milestone or deliverable that a team can coalesce around and focus on. Our CEO has been a master of forcing functions on a variety of occasions- maybe I will tell you a story about one some time...
  • Ideas are cheap, people are EVERYTHING. Jobster the concept and Jobster the company was built on this notion. Being in touch with entrepreneurship and the venture scene since the beginning of my career, I have come across many great ideas. In fact, I have stared at what I considered to be great ideas that were huge opportunities. Ultimately though, great ideas are nothing without great people to develop and execute the business plan. I think most opportunities are not beholden to just the first mover, but to the mover who has experience on their side.

I will add more later... I have to get back to work!