February 6, 2008

Starting a company

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Since being at uni and becoming properly aware of the working world, I have wanted to start a company. It has often seemed to me that the cutting edge interesting paid work in my field is happening in startups (by stating paid work I’m excluding open source and academia). Perhaps that is a naive view and all jobs involve shovelling large amounts of crap, still I believe shovelling your own is preferable to someone else’s. I’ve tried the more traditional career route. For a few years I even considered climbing the corporate ladder. I got an MBA and poked my head into the bottom level of middle management at a large firm and quickly scurried back down again – it is definitely not for me.

I’ve come close’ish to a few startups. During the MBA I talked about starting a company with another student, but our investigation suggested it would never be more than a hobby company (I still believe correctly). Later, while working at a small consultancy I tried to persuade the directors to become a product company, but they considered the risk too great for the returns compared to their current business. Before coming to London I actually pitched an idea to a few friends who had talked about starting and they pitched an idea back. It went nowhere, they said my idea was too big (an open platform for online worlds) and I thought their idea too small (casual games for ebook readers). Also, it was just after the dotcom crash was beginning to bite and everyone was extremely aware of that risk/reward payoff. Two of the people who pitched those casual games actually started a company, dogMelon, although I don’t believe they ever quit their day jobs.

Since moving to London the startup goal has receded. I haven’t met anyone here who is seriously interested despite exploring a few ideas over beers. I used to be of the belief that if you could not convince at least one other person your idea was good enough to join you, then the idea probably wasn’t very good. Now, I’m not sure I care. After many years contracting in London I’ve built up a bit of a financial cushion. I’m comfortable and have no dependents. I still want to try creating something and this is about as good as its going to get. I feel its worth starting by myself (perhaps something small) and just seeing what happens. I should at least learn more about what it involves and whether I want to continue.


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