Dharmesh Shah


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Answers.OnStartups: Community Q&A For Startup Entrepreneurs

By Dharmesh Shah on October 8, 2009

I’m a big fan of a site called Stack Overflow.  It’s a surprisingly useful Q&A site for posting programming questions, and getting answers from the community.  The site has been immensely successful and is now often the first place I go to find answers to those vexing questions.  One of the things I like most about it is that both the questions and answers get voted on by the community.  As a result, the best stuff surfaces to the top.  You have to really use it to appreciate it.

In any case, I’m a big fan of the site.  So, I was thrilled when Joel Spolsky (who, along with Jeff Atwood of Coding Horror) decided to make the software that powers Stack Overflow available to others.  I immediately reached out to Joel to see if I could get early access to the software.  (I’m speaking at Joel’s Business of Software conference coming up in San Francisco, so we had communicated recently anyways). 

I got access to the software a little while ago and am pleased to announce that a new collaborative Q&A site for entrepreneurs is now launched and ready for your use. 

Here's the link: Answers.OnStartups.com

I have a long list of exceptional entrepreneurs I know well enough to arm-twist into participating in the community. Here's a sample (in no specific order):

1) Adam Smith, Xobni

2) Drew Houston, DropBox

3) Jay Meattle, Shareaholic

4) Mike McDerment, FreshBooks

5) Neil Davidson, RedGate Software, Business of Software

6) Jeff Bennett, NameMedia

7) Brian Shin, Visible Measures

8) Sachin Agarwal, Posterous

9) Peldi Guilizonni, Balsamiq

10) David Cancel, Compete.com, Performable

11) Brian Halligan, HubSpot

12) Alexis Ohanian, Reddit

13) Andy Payne, angel investor

14) Rand Fishkin, SEOmoz

15) Don Dodge, Microsoft

16) Nivi, VentureHacks

I've got many more, but you get the idea.  I know, I'm name-dropping a bit here, but I promise I will do my best into guilting these people to share their experience and insights. 

Here’s the link again:  http://answers.onstartups.com

Hope you’ll find it a useful resource.  If you have ideas on how we might make it better, please let me know.

Meanwhile, please help me spread the word.  The early days of a community like this are always the hardest (in a “chicken and egg” sort of way). 

Thanks for your support.

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12 Facts About Entrepreneurs That Will Likely Surprise You

By Dharmesh Shah on September 21, 2009

I have a picture in my head of what the average entrepreneur is like.  I’d guess pretty young (think Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc.) living the red beans and rice lifestyle and working 80+ hours a week and sleeping under their desk.  On some parts, I’m probably right — but on many, I’m flat-out wrong.  This is demonstrated by a recent report from the Kauffman foundation for entrepreneurship.  The report is titled “The Anatomy of an Entrepreneur”.  It’s based on a survey of 549 company founders across a variety of industries (that’s my first mistake, as it turns out entrepreneurs start companies other than Internet software companies — who knew?)OnStartups Human Brain

 

In any case, here are some of the points from the report that I found the most interesting. 

1. The average and median age of company founders when they started their current companies was 40.

2. 95.1 percent of respondents themselves had earned bachelor’s degrees, and 47 percent had more advanced degrees.

3. Less than 1 percent came from extremely rich or extremely poor backgrounds

4. 15.2% of founders had a sibling that previously started a business.

5. 69.9 percent of respondents indicated they were married when they launched their first business. An additional 5.2 percent were divorced, separated, or widowed.

6. 59.7 percent of respondents indicated they had at least one child when they launched their first business, and 43.5 percent had two or more children.

7. The majority of the entrepreneurs in the sample were serial entrepreneurs. The average number of businesses launched by respondents was approximately 2.3.

8. 74.8 percent indicated desire to build wealth as an important motivation in becoming an entrepreneur.

9. Only 4.5 percent said the inability to find traditional employment was an important factor in starting a business.

10. Entrepreneurs are usually better educated than their parents.

11. Entrepreneurship doesn’t always run in the family. More than half (51.9 percent) of respondents were the first in their families to launch a business.

12. The majority of respondents (75.4 percent) had worked as employees at other companies for more than six years before launching their own companies.

 Which of the above surprises you the most and alters your mental model of what entrepreneurs are like? 

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