LAUNCH

"Shipping a 1.0 product isn’t going to kill you, but it will try."

-- Rands

 

It's pushing 1am. I haven't been this tired in a long time, and I'm not even the one doing the hard work. Patience is wearing thin on all fronts; it's hard work to remain positive in the face of impending doom. If I have to record another 30 second test video on my iPhone again...

I get back from a trip to New Zealand on January 11th and try to hit the ground running. The week between Christmas and New Year is officially Justin.tv holiday, and a few people took some time off before or after. So, when I return to the office, it is the first time we had the entire Socialcam team completely assembled. We want to launch in time for SXSW, exactly two months away. Surely that is enough time for our team to get out an Android app, an iPhone app and a simple website.

Eric and Guillaume take time to design various API's the right way. Rob iterates the design, and iterates again. We build infrastructure. One month goes by. We review where we are at. I start to worry.

One month to go. Factoring App Store approval process, even at its most lenient, we have to submit in three weeks. We also want to get a beta out to users and prove our Minimum Viable Product is actually viable. I sit down with the iPhone team, Zach and Ammon, and we have a come-to-Jesus conversation on how we can possibly get this done. The team commits to working as hard as it takes, and they do indeed. 12 hour days, six or seven days a week. Sometimes far beyond the point where it is still productive. 

I'm not even programming; all I'm doing is trying to make sure that everyone on the team experiences no roadblocks and figure out how we can possibly move faster. It still takes time, though, and I'm spending 90% of my waking hours and 100% of my mental energy at the office. In the most cliche startup moment of all, my girlfriend leaves me the day after Valentine's Day; I guess I saw that coming for a few weeks.

The first build we ship internally is a week late, and crashes every ten seconds. Interface elements jump around randomly, taunting us. A week and a half to go.

Rhys (the entirety of the Android team) is ahead on implementing the design, but then we dive into video playback. Oh, the default playback mechanisms on Android won't give us the smooth experience we want. Rewrite. Despair. Wait. It works. Rhys looks like he's going to die from exhaustion.

Things start looking good in the app the few days before we have to submit it for approval. We've sent out a beta, gotten feedback and found bugs, iterated. It's coming together; we even get through our wish list of features that we were deathly afraid we'd have to cut. It's the night before submission and we've gathered a bunch of testers who are banging away at the app. Dozens of issues get discovered and patched in real time with the team sitting in a circle; tester, developer, tester, developer.

Our plan is to submit at 1pm on Friday. We go home around 12:30am Friday morning (or was it 1:30am?) with only six outstanding issues to go, four of them with known solutions. The next day 1:00 comes and goes, vanishing into the distant past as the number of issues balloons to fill all available space. 2, 3, 4, 5, and it is finally 6 o'clock and we are ready to submit a build.

We submit the binary and email out to our expanded beta list. 30 minutes and half a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue later we check our emails and realize that we broke signing up for new users in the latest build. Fixed, resubmitted, emailed all beta users, back to drinking. 15 hours later we realized that we broke discarding videos. Fixed, resubmitted, emailed all beta users, back to drinking.

Android still has a week to go -- no approval process on the Android Marketplace. This week we cut our list down of what we want to accomplish to almost entirely core video improvements. We blow through them.

Socialcam launched Monday. It's been almost four years since we did a 1.0 product sprint, and it relieves me to realize I still have the drive to do it. We burned the candle at both ends for two months to get you the app; it was constructed by a team that is passionate about unlocking your videos from your phone. I hope you all like it.

Drop out. Or don't.

I'm conflicted on the debate on whether or not young Americans should go to college. Recently it seems a lot of people have come out to claim that many college-age Americans would be better off just not going (Peter Thiel, Seth Prebasch). Others claim that we're in an education bubble or provide alternative suggestions for what you might do if you forgo a college education.

My college story. In high school I worked hard to build up a perfect college resume. I got good grades, did lots of activities, and I even sent an experiment into space! When I applied to college, I applied only to the top ten and fortunately, after a few scares, I got into Yale at the last possible moment (off the wait list in July!).

As many alumni often say, getting in is the hardest part about attending an Ivy League school. I'm not saying I didn't work hard, but I definitely worked less and less each subsequent year. In my final year I was taking classes two days a week for only two hours a day (most of them intros, perversely). Keep in mind that I was a full time student without a job at one of the best universities in the country. Instead of studying, I spent my time:

  • Drinking and socializing
  • Playing video games
  • Working on a calendar website

Today, I am a technology entrepreneur running a middle stage startup. It is pretty debatable whether that constitutes success, but I'm proud of my accomplishments and feel like I'm leading a productive life, so that's probably what counts in the end. When thinking about the great college debate, I'm often inclined to think about how college affected this outcome:

What it didn't do:

  • It didn't teach me any skills relevant to anything I'm doing now. I learned nothing about programming, web development, design, product management, project management, general management, basic accounting, corporate strategy, business communication, or really anything useful. I was a Physics and Philosophy major, but from conversations with other friends (science majors who went on to med school, or econ majors who went to hedge funds, etc) no one seemed to learn anything useful to their later careers. Most of the foundation in communication, writing, and quantitative reasoning I developed in middle school and high school, and not in college.
  • It didn't prepare me mentally for startups. College was really an exercise in credentialing within a rigidly defined system, and didn't prepare me to think outside-the-box, live the consequences of my own actions, or really exist on my own in the real world at all.
  • It didn't improve my work ethic. While I am a hard worker, college definitely did nothing to improve my work ethic as I found I could get by on relatively little work.

What it kind of did:

  • College kind of exposed me to entrepreneurship. We had some business plan competitions, but Yale didn't really have the technology entrepreneurship culture of MIT or Stanford. Later on after graduation I connected with other Yalies who were working on startups, but at the time examples were few and far between.

What it did do:

  • Act as a pretty decent club for me to hang out while I waited until I was ready to be an adult. Unlike today's crop of eighteen year old entrepreneur wunderkin, I was in no way mature enough to operate a real business until I was of a post-college age. In the meantime, it was nice to have a comfortable place with food and smart people to hang out at.
  • Cause me to build relationships with people who would enable me to start my company. Two of my three cofounders were friends from college, and we definitely couldn't have gotten where we are without each other. I love you guys.

So, all things said, I value my college experience greatly but can see massive inefficiencies in the current system. Currently American higher education is like a massive prisoner's dilemma backed up by societal expectations and cheap loans: if you don't go, you feel like you won't be able to get a job. On top of that, college is an amazing experience: who doesn't want to live around a ton of friends and hang out all day? But are we better off as a society forcing everyone to play this game? I doubt it.

Opponents of the "you should drop out of college" advice generally argue that college opens doors and teach you about a broad range of things which make your life more fulfilling later. A surprising amount of vitriol has come out against specifically encouraging kids to drop out and start a startup, claiming that this will diminish a love of learning and erode middle class values.

Here is a random collection of my thoughts, which probably should not be used to guide your own life choices if you know what is good for you:

  • College education is an oversubscribed resource. In general you should not invest in things that everyone else wants and are propped up by government subsidies.
  • For people for whom college genuinely does open doors (first generation college grads, lower income students), you should go. However, for a large majority of middle class plus kids, my observation is that it a college degree doesn't really open many doors that a few years in industry don't. This really applies to tech, where honestly people don't really give two shits about your degree if you are a good programmer or have experience on hot projects. 
  • For a lot of students, college is a vacation, and it is a bunch of bullshit if we pretend otherwise. If we want to have a subsidized four year holiday in the prime of our lives, then I'm seriously all for it, but let's call it what it is. 
  • If you expect to learn skills that will train you for a job, prepare to be disappointed going to a four year college. You aren't going to learn anything that is directly applicable to any job. 
  • You can meet a lot of interesting and useful people in college. Unfortunately, going straight to the working world might not lend itself to those opportunities as easily, at least, not with entirely people at the same life stage as you are, ready to make friends and learn new things. 
  • All of the above is highly dependent on where you go. Kyle, who I think by general consensus is the smartest cofounder of Justin.tv, dropped out MIT to found the company with us. Dropping out of MIT is like graduating from Yale.

Reading over the above I realize this is a pretty rambling and useless piece of writing. You should probably go to someone else for advice. TLDR: College doesn't do anything to prepare you for entrepreneurship but is a great place to hang out and meet people.

Selling Kiko

I told this story to some new people the other night, and in its retelling I realized that it might be more interesting than I thought. I've already chronicled getting funding for Kiko, the first ever AJAX web calendar, from Y Combinator, as well as how we ended up starting Justin.tv. What was left out was how transitioned out of the business. 

When Emmett and I were winding down Kiko we thought a lot about what we could do with it. Eventually, we decided we would start a new company, but had to close Kiko, which had several angel investors including YC. We had a bit of cash left in the bank, but felt a great deal of responsibility to return as much money to the investors as possible.

While brainstorming how to do this, I had the idea that we could cleanly liquidate our assets by selling everything on eBay. I wish that I could say the idea was original, but the previous year a site called Jux2 (which showed search results from both Microsoft and Yahoo) sold itself for $105,000. We figured if we could recover even $50,000 we'd be able to give the money back to the investors and walk away with a clean conscience.

We set up a 10-day auction. In the description we included what you were getting (the domain name, source code, and user base -- which had around 70,000 signups but almost no actives), and what you weren't (Emmett and I as employees). We also offered to do a week of integration consulting for $3000 of travel expenses, at the buyer's option. We listed the whole thing for $49,999.99.

We posted the auction on Reddit and, with the help of a few friends, got to the front page. Back then Reddit was much more like Hacker News in its focus on technology and startup related news. Pretty quickly the story was picked up by Techcrunch, John Batelle's blog, and some other tech related sites.

The auction turned out to be a much bigger story than we'd expected. Apparently no one remembered Jux2's sale and we were credited with coming up with the idea -- something I'd taken pains to correct whenever anyone cared to ask. Pretty soon lots of people were writing to us to ask about the auction, more details about the technology behind Kiko, and other random questions. One person wrote us imploring us to open source the code instead of trying to make a few bucks off of it. To be honest, it's probably good for the OSS community that our unintelligible spaghetti code wasn't released into the wild. God forbid someone actually try to use it...

After a few days of fielding questions we were wondering if we'd get a bid, but there wasn't much else we could think to do. But then we did! Our minimum, 50k! Emmett and I were excited and somewhat incredulous -- we had only half expected this to work and were doing it as a last ditch liquidation effort.

Then, in what was probably the biggest web failure I've ever personally experienced, eBay cancelled our auction. I was notified by this fact when Jessica Livingston at YC emailed me asking if we had already sold it because the auction page was down. Digging into what had happened revealed that eBay's terms of service only allows for a single link to be included in the description, and we had included two: one to the domain proper and one to the API.

This was unbelievable to me. First of all: multiple links, why is that so bad? Second: why wouldn't they just contact us and ask us to change it instead of wordlessly canceling the auction? Third: why wouldn't they just not allow you to create an auction with more than one link in the first place? You can do that in a single line of code! Having a $50,000 item cancelled was the worst possible thing eBay could possibly have done to us; we were convinced that we wouldn't be able to get our bidder back. 

In the end reaching out to eBay through official and back channels did nothing. I ended up creating a new auction with a shorter length to attempt to mirror the original end date, then I contacted all the people who had been asking questions and blogs who had written about us and gave them the new link. We prayed for the best and decided to take a vacation to NYC that weekend to visit friends. The auction was set to end Saturday.

We got the minimum bid back and breathed a sigh of relief. A couple days later it was the morning of the last day of the auction, and we were still at the same bid. The number of technical calls I'd been fielding had been heating up to several a day, and I still had some that morning, so I was up early watching the auction. Around 8 or 9 it jumped -- we were at 80!

Exciting times. I think it was 90 degrees in New York that day. I was sitting in my underwear in some of my college friends' shitty East Village apartment, where four of them lived and three of us were crashing. Every few minutes I would click refresh on the eBay page hoping for a miracle while everybody else watched on amused. Emmett was at another friend's place in Brooklyn, so we weren't even watching the auction together.

An hour left to go. It jumped to 100k. I ran out and yelled something unintelligible to my friends. A few minutes later it was 113. I was a genius. 150 with 15 minutes to go. I had just invented a new business model for web startups across the globe. 

In the last 10 minutes it jumped over 100k to 258. I was on the phone with Emmett literally screaming. My friends were cheering. I felt like I'd won the Superbowl. I was a rock god.

Final price: $258,100. Buyer: powerjoe1998, who turned out to be Elliot Noss, CEO of Tucows, with whom I'd had a few conversations. He called a few minutes later to congratulate us. That night I partied like it was my last night left to live.

The Aftermath

There were a few practical consequences to selling on eBay:

  • We should have had an actual contract attached to the auction. Tucows wanted a ton of warrants that we didn't want to provide, and the deal almost fell through after the fact because of it (and took a lot of lawyer-hours to negotiate). It also consumed a lot of my time.
  • Tucows bought Kiko to resell to ISPs (whom they already provided white label webmail services to). We went to Toronto to do the integration week with them. Toronto is a beautiful city.
  • If we'd wanted one, this would have been the best way to get a job ever. About 20 different people and companies reached out to us because they had heard about the auction. This included really big successful ones as well as many small startups.
  • We got to be in a bunch of press, which was probably the first time we got significant coverage for one of our projects. Lots of people wanted to write about the auction, including the Financial Times. I recall that I was obsessed with telling reporters that our next project would "change the way people think about the Internet" and trying to get that specific line in print (I was secretly referring to Justin.tv). Eventually I managed to.

Karma

When you help others, they often help you. Success in any field, especially in business, is about working with people.

-- Keith Ferrazi, fellow Yalie and accomplished business book author

Being in the startup community has a lot of positives: you get to work on exciting projects, reach massive scale rapidly, and collaborate with brilliant innovators. But my favorite part is Silicon Valley's "pay it forward" mentality. In tech startups, and especially among Y Combinator alumni, there is a culture of helping others. Founders often get asked for advice on fundraising, technology or strategy, and universally I have seen a culture of founders taking time out of their often busy schedules to help others with their businesses.

I recently asked a friend of mine and fellow YC alum for help on some tactical questions that he had explicit in-depth experience in. He got back to us and made himself available immediately, and was extremely helpful over the next several months. At one meeting, he remembered and mentioned that in fact when he was applying to YC, he had contacted me out of the blue and asked for application advice (I told him to make a demo, etc), and that it seemed now he was in a position to help me in return.

Almost every day the YC alums list gets an email asking for an introduction, a technology recommendation, or a place to work out of for a meeting. Every one of those emails gets an answer by someone, and that inspires me very much. I hope one day to have helped many more people than have helped me.

Why entrepreneurs should love rap music

I love pop music. Most of all, I love rap music. And I'm not talking about backpack rappers like Common or Kanye West; I'm talking about rappers who rap about flagrantly commercializing their music, doing whatever it takes to make it (even if that includes robbing or selling drugs), and are disrespectful to just about everyone. Among my circle of over-educated, yuppie friends, this is viewed with something between a mild embarrassment and a strong distaste. But I'm tired of hearing about Ben Folds, Vampire Weekend or whatever hipster band you happen to be listening to right now. I'm a fan of 50 Cent and Rick Ross and I'm just going to come out and say it (and not just at parties or because it happens to be on the radio).

Rap music is music for entrepreneurs. Other genres write about love (rock, r&b), unattainable love (indie), nothing at all (electronic / dance), or redneck issues (country). But only rap music is almost maniacal in its focus on success, the acquisition of money and subsequent dispensation of it. Like startups, rap might be one of America's last great meritocracies. In the rap world, like the startup world, rappers are rewarded based on a combination of hard work, skill, marketing, and timing. Almost all famous rappers came up from humble backgrounds (Notorious B.I.G, Tupac, Jay-Z, Eminem) but through the aforementioned achieved amazing commercial success.

Here are three reasons I love rap music as an entrepreneur:

  • It's all about hard work. In songs like Girl (Paul Wall) or Light Up (Drake), rappers espouse "staying 25/8 on your grind" (it's better than 24/7!) and grinding for days on end. While this might not be sustainable or healthy, it's definitely motivational!
  • Rappers understand marketing. In Moment of Clarity, Jay-Z blatantly states he dumbed down his music to appeal to a broader audience. No artistic pretentions here, just iteration of a product to appeal to a mass market!
  • The rap game is all about timing and a little luck. Just like innovations in tech, rappers ride on big waves, generally around certain geographical areas or musical trends becoming popular. Being in the right place at the right time is important!

Do you love rap as much as I do? If you work at a startup and love rap music for its hustle, give me some love.

Why starting Justin.tv was a really bad idea but I'm glad we did it anyway

This post appeared on Techcrunch as a guest post earlier today. It might be the greatest day for my writing career yet!


Right now I'm neck deep in product launch mode, putting the finishing touches on our new mobile video application - Socialcam. Of course, I’ve been here before...

Years ago when we launched the Justin.tv show we had no idea what we were doing. This much was obvious to anyone who watched. Outsiders attribute far more strategic thought to us than we deserve: that we planned all along to start a live platform, and that the Justin.tv show itself was a way of promoting that platform. While this ended up happening, none of it had crossed our minds at the time.  

Emmett Shear and I had been working on Kiko, the first Javascript web calendaring application in the Microsoft Outlook style. We prototyped the application in our final year at Yale, went on to raise money from Y Combinator, then continued working on it for over a year. 

Boom. Google Calendar was released, absorbing most of our nascent user base and capturing most of the early adopter mindshare. But to be perfectly honest, Kiko would have failed regardless. We were too easily distracted and hadn't really thought through the strategic implications of owning a standalone calendaring property (hint: no one wants a calendar without email). A short time later we were burned out and spending most of our time playing Xbox with the Reddit guys in Davis Square - hardly a startup success story.

Emmett and I started thinking about possible ways to get out of the calendar business. At the same time, I was startup fatigued. We had spent over a year paying ourselves nothing. Seed and angel investment market conditions were the polar opposite of what they are today, it had been a struggle to even raise a paltry $70k, and we had failed to build a product with real traction. I was starting to think about moving back to Seattle to try something new, maybe in a different industry.

Still, we learned a ton and it was fun to be part of the early Y Combinator startup community (then largely in Boston). We became friends with Matt Brezina and Adam Smith (of Xobni), Trip Adler, Tikhon Bernstam and Jared Friedman (of Scribd), and many others. It’s amazing to see how many of those friendships persist today, and even more amazing how well many of those companies are doing. 

Coming back from one particular YC dinner, Emmett and I were discussing strategic ideas for Kiko, and I remember telling Emmett an idea that popped into my head: what if you could hear an audio feed on the web of our discussion? Wouldn't that be interesting to other like-minded entrepreneurial types? We kept going, and eventually the idea morphed into a video feed. Then it became a live video feed. Then it became a continuous live video feed that followed someone around 24/7. Then it had chat, and a community built around watching this live show, which was now a new form of entertainment. I was hooked.

I couldn't stop talking about the idea. I mentioned it at YC dinners and to other friends. I even came up with a perfect name for it: Justin.tv. On one trip to DC, I told my Dad and my college friend Michael Seibel what I was thinking. Eventually, in-between drinking sessions, we thought of a brilliant idea for divesting ourselves of Kiko, which is a story for another day. After that, Emmett and I were coming up with other startup ideas (I guess we got excited about staying in the industry after all). One particular favorite was the idea of a web app that would ingest your blog's RSS feed and then allow you to layout and print physical magazines from it. Excitedly, we drove one afternoon to Paul Graham's house to pitch it.

We explained the idea to Paul and Robert Morris, who just happened to be at the house visiting. I vaguely recall there also being a "this will kill academic publishing" angle, although I can't figure out how that sensibly fits in now. Paul didn't particularly like the idea: he didn't think people would use it. "Well," he said, "what else do you have?"

I said the only thing I could think of: "Justin.tv."

Because it was something I was clearly passionate about, and because creating a new form of entertainment was clearly a big market (if you could invent one!), Paul was actually into it. Robert's addition to the conversation was "I'll fund that just to see you make a fool of yourself." Emmett and I walked out of there with a check for $50,000.

Six months later, we'd recruited two other cofounders (Kyle Vogt, our hardware hacker, who we convinced to drop out of MIT on a temporary leave of absence, and Michael Seibel, my college friend from DC, who became our "producer"). We built a site with a video player and chat and two prototype cameras that captured, encoded and streamed live video over cell data networks, negotiated with a CDN to carry our live video traffic, and raised an additional couple hundred thousand dollars. Our plan? Launch the show and see what happens. 

Now, for the sake of properly delivering my intended message, I will break out of narrative and just tell you why this was a bad idea:

  • We didn't have a plan. We loosely figured if the show became popular we could sell sponsorships or advertising, but we didn't have a plan to scale the number of shows, nor did we understand what our marginal costs on streaming, customer acquisition, or actually selling ads were.
  • We didn't understand the industry. We didn't know what kinds of content advertisers would pay for. We didn't have good insight into what kind of content people wanted to watch, either.
  • We relied on proprietary hardware that we were going to mass-produce ourselves. Smart angels told us to drop the hardware and figure out how to do it with commodity, but we wouldn't listen because we thought hardware would be easy (or at least, doable). Ironically, months after we were told this we switched to using a laptop.
  • We were trying to build a “hits” based business without any experience making hits. We knew a lot about websites, but little about content creation. Smart VCs (who took our calls because Paul referred us) told us as much: nobody really likes investing in hits based businesses, because it requires the continual generation of new hits to be successful (instead of, say, building a platform like Ebay or Google whose success is built on masses of regular users). 

How did we get as far as we did?

  • We were passionate. We honestly believed we could create a new form of reality entertainment. Put to the side that we had no experience with creating video (or any kind of content), by God, we were going to make this work.
  • Early stage investing is often about the people, not the idea. Paul has said as much about what he looks for. As two-time YC founders he knew that we worked well together and even if we were working on something totally inane we were going to stick it out with the company and iterate until we found a business model. 
  • We sold the shit out of it. Everyone we knew was excited for Justin.tv. Why? Because our excitement was infectious. That's how we got Kyle to drop out of school. That's how we got Michael to quit his job and move across the country.

Ultimately, the show failed. But all told, I'm thankful every day that things went the way they did. Why?

We built a strong team. The four of us started, and the four of us all still have leadership roles in the company. Along the way we recruited the smartest engineers and best product designers we could find.

We were willing to learn, and to pivot. After quickly realizing the initial show wasn't a sustainable model, we decided to go the platform route, and built the world's largest live video platform (both on the web and in our mobile apps, which have millions of downloads).

It got us started. Some people wait until the stars are aligned before they jump in. Maybe that's the right move, but plenty of businesses get started with something that seems implausible, stupid, or not-a-real-business but pivot into something of value (think Groupon). If we hadn't started then, would we have later?

Today, I'm more excited about Justin.tv than I've been at any time since we launched the initial platform. Why? We're taking everything we've gathered and learned over the past four and half years building the largest live video platform on the Web (17 million monthly unique visitors in Dec according to comScore’s MediaMetrix), and applying it to tackle a new generation of problems in mobile video. Our world class web and mobile engineering team, all of our product development knowledge, our substantial, scaled video infrastructure, and everything we've learned about building engineering teams has all been put to work on a new app that we think is going to change everything. 

Our new app is called Socialcam. Check out the site for updates on our imminent launch.

What I learned from watching six hours of Starcraft

This weekend I spent over six hours watching commentated Starcraft 2 replays while lying in bed. Luckily, since we do a lot in the gaming space at Justin.tv, all my time spent gets to count as "market research." As I approached my fifth hour, I realized a few things about the dynamics of the nascent esports industry:

  1. Money accrues to the distributors. Recently there was a debate on Team Liquid (the largest Starcraft community) about whether it was fair that casters (commentators who commentate and post replays to their Youtube or Blip channels) make much more than players. Casters generally make money through advertising, while players make money from winning tournament prize pools. Ethical dilemmas of fairness aside (considering that the players are creating the content), the reality is that casters are the in the distribution position with millions of subscribers on Youtube and control the audience (and therefore control which players get exposure).
  2. The real winners are the platforms (Youtube, Blip) to which the distributors are beholden for advertising dollars (which they take a hefty percentage of). Building a community for which you control all the distribution for creates a massive amount of lock in.

This pattern is mirrored in many other industries, such as the music industry, where record labels control radio / media distribution and are much more powerful than the actual artists, or the clothing industry, where small designers are beholden to retail outlets and have to take terrible terms to get distribution. The takeaway? Being the distribution platform is a lot better than being a producer.

Lastly, for Starcraft lovers in the Bay Area, get excited: we're doing Startupcraft 2 very soon. Details will be announced shortly.

Startup Advice Paradox

Just read this post on Should you really be a startup entrepreneur? by Mark Suster on Techcrunch. The ironic thing about "Should I do a startup" advice is this: if it's a blog post that convinces you to not start a startup then you really shouldn't do it. If it's a blog post that convinces you that you should start a startup, then you also probably shouldn't do it. You should start your tech startup, lifestyle business, bar and grill, or whatever it is when you know it is the thing that you truly want to do, and nothing that anyone else says is going to make that otherwise. 

Whenever I get asked for life direction advice, my advice is always the same: Do what you want to do. If you want to start a startup, then cool, dive in and godspeed. If you want a stable job and a calm, peaceful life, well that's got a lot of advantages too. Ultimately, you should look deep inside to figure out what drives you and makes you happiest, and pursue it relentlessly. Good luck.

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Check out our new project, Socialcam. In just one month we're going to revolutionize how you use video.