OnStartups

Adam Smith Video On The Story Of Xobni

Posted by Dharmesh Shah on November 17, 2009 5 Comments

As noted in my previous article on startup marketing, I had the opportunity to speak at the MIT Startup bootcamp recently.  My friend, and an all-around great guy, Adam Smith (founder of Xobni) spoke earlier that day.  Adam did a great job capturing the experience of starting a company and watching a company grow.  Adam's both brilliant and articulate.  Well worth watching the video.

 

Here are some quick notes from the video (to help entice you to watch).

1.  If you can improve email just a little bit, you can create a lot of value.

 
2.  PG: "Go shake your friends tree, and see who falls out"
 
3.  Met co-founder originally on Craig's list (when looking for apartment)
 
4. All our passwords in the early days of Xobni were "xobni rules"
 
5. Drew Houston wrote the first lines of code for his startup at our place.
 
6. In the early days, after the Series A, we hired about 1 employee a month.
 
7. Once we realized that Xobni Analytics (Google Analytics for your email) was interesting, but not something people used every day, we decided to change the product completely.  I'm not telling you this so you can short-circuit this, but so you can forgive yourself if you do the same thing.
 
8. Expect and hope that a quarter of your projects fail.  If not, you're not taking enough risks.
 
9. Focus on the user.  
 
10. Have lots of experiments, but make sure they're strategically focused.  That's one of the problems Yahoo! has, they're spread too thin.
 
11. If you're starting an enterprise software company (God help you), hire a VP of sales.
 
12. Hit the high notes.  Find things that only you can do really well.  This helps you raise the barrier to entry and please your users at the same time.
 
13. We decided to move out West, because when we asked people, half said it doesn't matter, the other half said, move out West.
 
14. Ron Conway (the biggest angel investor in the world) is getting more dealflow now than ever before.
 
15. Paul Graham's essays are required reading.  They're going to be my kid's first reading.