Blinded: A founder’s prospective
Recently I was reading Double Tap, Danielle Morril’s most recent post in an ongoing series of them since she quit working on Referly, and one thing really stuck out to me.
Several months back I remembered an exchange between Danielle and another HN user. Interestingly, this HN user was suggesting the system could be gamed at Referly and what I remember even more vividly was Danielle’s response.
“If people can successfully "game” Referly we’d probably try to hire them.“
Just a short, simple and matter of fact response from a founder who seemingly had it all figured out. At the time it probably seemed like some troll on HN just trying to do as Trolls do.
In hindsight it was probably a business minded HN user either speaking from experience or having given it at least some thought before writing it.
So why is it that Founders put blinders on when they’re thinking about their own startups? Even the most experienced of founders seem to do this. We don’t do it when we’re looking over a YC application or having a meeting at a coffee shop. We ask ALL the hard questions, in those situations founders push and prod and the get the tough answers out of the Entrepreneur in question.
As a founder, you owe it to yourself, your Co-Founder(s) and your future employees to ask the hard questions to yourself and heed the advice of those who offer it as well.
Don’t get me wrong, in no way am I suggesting that you should take all advice as words to live by, in fact I’d say almost the opposite. Each piece of advice given should be taken with a grain of salt, but keep in mind, sometimes that salt burns because it’s in a wound.
Basically as founders that leaves us two choices.
We can either heed the advice we had not thought of and keep moving forward as Danielle has now chosen to do.
We can keep moving knowing that we’ve already considered the road ahead and we know how that particular problem will be combatted when the time comes.
Here’s what you can’t do
Ignore it. If you’re ignoring it, its probably because it bothers you and you don’t want to talk about it.
If you want to know, just ask anyone you know for a list of failed startups. Most of these founders can tell you a point in time well before they gave up on the business what their fatal problem was
I’m sorry to break this to you but that "Reality Distortion Field” you read about in the Jobs Biography, yeah, you don’t have that. And even if you do, its probably NOT a good thing.
As founders, you need to take off those blinders. Do some Market research. Talk to users. Stop asking friends and family, they probably don’t have the heart to tell you your idea sucks.
Determine who your target market is and find ways to penetrate their inner circle. Because unless you know those users better than you know yourself you’ll probably be writing a post like this one.
But, who knows, if you take off those blinders then the post you write just might look more like this.