Lessons From a Year of (Our) Startup Life

6/27/08

You know how, in the excitement of a new relationship, you often find yourself celebrating dozens of little “anniversaries?” The day you met, first date, first… You get the idea. Building a company is like that, with so many milestones to be passed and, a year hence, commemorated. First business plan. First viable business plan. First successful pitch. Incorporation. First financing. Heck, around here we could probably work up some feelings about the delivery of our first Staples order.

But today is the big one—because, Xconomy readers, today marks one year since we met you. Last June 27 we introduced ourselves, offering what we hoped you’d appreciate as a fresh take on the Boston-area innovation economy. And, to our delight, you got it—and over the year you’ve helped us make it better.

For a bunch of journalists who had previously spent most of our time at magazines, where lead times, printing presses, and bulk mail can sometimes put an uncomfortable distance between writer and reader, it has been thrilling to get your immediate reactions, your questions and ideas, and occasionally even your assistance with stories. And what you’ve helped us learn in this first year has given us the confidence to venture beyond our Kendall Square neighborhood and begin introducing ourselves to other key innovation clusters (hey there, Seattle).

So thanks for a great year; we’d be honored if you’d hang around for another one. And for those of you building companies of your own, a little anniversary gift: just a few things we know now that we wish we knew last year.

  • Write everything down, even if you’re the sort of person who remembers what page in your seventh-grade language arts book described the difference between onomatopoeia and alliteration.
  • Put it somewhere you’ll be able to find it once working on a startup has transformed you into somebody who can’t remember seventh grade. Or yesterday.
  • People don’t eat as much at catered events as the caterer would have you believe, so cut the suggested order in half. (This from our founder, editor-in-chief, and Chief Executive Tightwad Bob Buderi.)
  • Hire people you trust. (OK, this one we did know a year ago—and it’s probably the single biggest reason for our success to date—but it bears repeating at regular intervals. Hourly would be good.)
  • Trust them.
  • Fancy titles are one excellent—and free—form of compensation that a startup can readily offer. (Courtesy of Co-founder, Executive Editor, and Chief Operating Officer moi.)
  • A fancy title can engender in others the idea that you actually know how to do the job it describes—go with that.
  • A truly surprising array of people will help you and your company along the way. Thank them. At least twice.

So thank you. And Happy Readerversary!

By posting a comment, you agree to our terms and conditions.

  • Steve Woit

    Also thanks to all of our Underwriters and Event Sponsors for their support!

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/andrewkoyfman Andrew Koyfman

    Another important lesson:

    Offsite backup can be surprisingly useful when your hosting company explodes (http://www.xconomy.com/boston/2008/06/02/explosion-leads-to-a-little-down-time-for-xconomy-and-thousands-of-other-sites/)

  • http://serendeputy.com Jason Butler

    Congratulations on making it a year! I think you do a great job covering the scene, and I hope there are many years to come.

    Cheers,
    Jason

  • Bill Ghormley

    Thanks to Bob and Rebecca for trusting your idea — to bring the highest standards of journalism to a powerful, new platform.

    Thanks for having the energy and guile to design and create rich experiences for Xconomy’s constituencies —
    readers, Xconomy Forum attendees, employees, underwriters, sponsors, advertisers, investors, networking event attendees AND the best “Battle of the Tech Bands” ever!
    HERE’S TO AN EQUALLY EXPERIENTIAL 2nd YEAR!!

  • http://www.robert-louis.com Bob Winter

    Bob, Rebecca, Steve: Happy anniversary. Your success shows that in this hyper-media world good, relevant content delivered with insight still wins!
    All the best,
    Bob Winter

  • Bob Postlethwaite

    Congrats on your first year. You have a great product!