The Startup Song... or... Sunscreen 2.0

I graduated high school in '97, so the original version of this song means a lot to me.   Here's my take on it for today's tech world:

Entrepreneurs of the class of '07... launch a startup.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, startups would be IT.

The long term impact of startups has been proven by analysts, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering and thus far shortlived experience.

I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of simple HTML. Never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of simple HTML until the web has been completely eaten by Flash and AJAX. But trust me, in 20 years you'll look back at your site in the Internet Archive and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay in simplicity and how fabulous your site really looked.

Your app is not as lightweight as you imagine.

Don't worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to code PHP by chewing bubblegum. The real troubles with your servers are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4am on some idle Tuesday.

Add one feature every day that scares you.

Sing....on YouTube.

Don't be reckless with other people's data, don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.

Sleep.

Don't waste your time jealous of other people's traffic spikes; sometimes you're TechCrunched, sometimes you're not. The race is long, and in the end, it's only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive on your company blog, forget the insults; if you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old wireframes, throw away your old Paypal confirmations.

Sleep.

Don't feel guilty if you don't know how you'll monetize. The most interesting startups I know didn't know at 22 million dollars of funding how they wanted to make money, some of the most interesting 40 million dollar startups still don't.

Get plenty of link love.

Be kind to your beta users, you'll miss them when they're gone.

Maybe you'll get bought by Yahoo!, maybe you won't, maybe Google, maybe not, maybe you'll implode in a bubble, maybe you'll dance the funky chicken at your initial public offering.

Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself, either.

Your clickthroughs are half fraud, so are everybody else's.

Enjoy tagging, use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it, or what other people think of it, it's the greatest categorization you'll ever use.

Dance... on YouTube. Even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room.

Create an FAQ, even if no one reads it.

Do NOT read Dvorak, he will only make you feel angry.

Get to know your users, you never know when they'll be gone for good.

Be nice to your angel investors; they are your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that developers come and go, but for the precious few you should hold on to them. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle of your userbase, because the older you get, the more you need the young people who will paste your widget in MySpace.

Build a company in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard; Build in Silicon Valley once, but leave before it makes you soft.

Travel...after you get bought or blow up.

Accept certain inalienable truths, prices of AdWords will rise,
politicians will drop the ball on net neutrality, you too will get old, and when you do you'll fantasize that when you were young AdWord prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children entered their correct age during registration.

Respect your Privacy Policy.

Don't expect VCs to support you. Maybe you'll get funded, maybe you have a wealthy hedgefund partner; but you never know when the dry powder might run out.

Don't mess too much with your hair.  In fact, just shave it, because bald is cool when you work at a startup.

Be careful whose blogs you read, and comment when someone blogs about you. Blogs are a form of feedback, and subscribing to the right ones is a way of cutting through the noise.  Just gloss over and paint over the ugly parts, recycling reviews on your front page for more than they're worth.

But trust me on the startup.