I am 100% addicted to the startup world, there is no doubt I love the excitement of selling a deal, the freedom of chasing your passions, the option of spending time with family when you want to, the ability to sit in your underwear and dressing gown (I apologise to those that I might have just induced horrific visions too) and of course the money you can make.
Recently I have made critical comments both publicly and privately about roles so called mentors/advisors and community leaders play, some people may say its a personal vendetta or maybe jealousy but I would like to put forward a complete argument for debate and express why I care and speak out about these things ?
The simple facts are that startups can destroy peoples lives, I have seen people lose their homes, cars, savings nest eggs and recently seen marriages breakup because people believed in clichéd advice and never stopped believing in the startup snake oil that is dispensed via some blogs and vidcasts. Then again thats probably ok because we can wheel out the story about Chris Sacca coming back from 4 million in debt so I am sure it will work out for those people in the long run. I pretty sure I have an example story to motivate you for what ever business situation your in.
When people give advice when themselves dont have the experience or depth knowledge I find this frustrating and annoying. I meet people monthly that are following this weak advice and chasing dreams manufactured by these so called mentors and leaders. They will give advice about how simple things can be done but wont caution about legal and financial exposures because they themselves dont know this information but hell thats ok because thats what startups are meant to be right ? Thats why companies like pollinzer are great to work with because they will have the right level of experience, guidance, streetsmarts and most importantly ability to generate exposure that any startup would benefit from. Its a company that one day I hope I can grow to match with experience and knowledge.
What I see regularly are people reading some great information such as the lean startup ideology then they rewrap the information as their own and call themselves a startup advisor/mentor. If you find something like that interesting and then simply make comment and send people to the blog of Eric Ries as thats where the depth of knowledge and experience is and what is really worth the read. I think I may have just painted over my own foot with that brush but it is something we all need to be thinking about. I simply advise anybody who takes in information from a so called mentor or blogger, including myself, to ask whats in it for them and what experience do they have.
A long time ago I started a vidcast series called “Getting to know” the idea was to create a awareness of bizspark partners that I thought was cool idea for the community, unfortunately bizspark people didnt agree with the format and didnt get any support and it was rarely reblogged so without eyeballs I couldnt make the change in these startups that I really wanted to do so energy was spent elsewhere being more productive which I find sad that I failed to help those people.
Companies that run these programs should invest the right effort, if I want to learn about .NET I dont want to listen to some guy who just installed visual studio, read a Scott Hanselman blog post or watched a Phil Haack MIX talk give me Andrew Coates or Mitch Denny any day please or if I wont to learn about Windows phone dev give me Nick Randolph. Microsoft does do this which is great but the same respect should be given to startup community give me the true experienced mentors that they have access to and give exposure to the great startups using the great Microsoft technologies.
So I would like to challenge any leader in the startup community to increase the awareness of a startup they know and stop the self promotion and ego stroking of friends and colleagues. If your a community leader you have the ability to make a real difference, probably much more than I do, to a startup by giving them awareness or assisting them to connect with vertical influences and leaders. Hell give that awareness to your friends only for all that matters at least your doing something positive. A startup is more than something that is knocked up over the weekend and or spent a few hours moonlighting over, these are companies that people have put their livelihoods and passions on the line and we should be promoting those people and companies not the so called mentors or experts of this world.
I really do hope this brings out my point of view but then again what the hell do I know.