Less is good: an Italian smart-up case in Silicon Valley
They did it again. The core guys at 37signals, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, just released a new book titled “Rework”. I had pre-ordered the book through my Kindle a few months ago, so I had the chance to read it the same day they published it.
I thought that the “make it simple, make it now” philosophy was already been explained and detailed enough in their previous book “Getting real”. I remember that as soon as they made it available the paper version on Lulu.com, I bought 10 copies of it for the people who worked with me. It was straightforward, useful and quick to read. It helped me in many different cases to cut the unnecessary activities, but Rework is a step forward.
I think every person who wants to create a (product) company must have it.
Among the many different valuable chapters contained in the book, two of them are really fundamental to start a business the right way.
First – “Tone is in your fingers”. Too many times we are (and I am) distracted by fanciness of things, like Herman Miller great chairs, the last Mac laptop so smooth and incredibly cool or the ultimate Android phone by HTC.
Those things distract us from the only task that matters when you start a new business: create something useful, be sure people know it, sell it and make money. I always repeat it to myself over and over when I’m exposed to the “fanciness virus”. That doesn’t mean details or great design are not important, but it means that, as a human being, your ability to get involved and be really captured by something is limited, especially if “you are your company”.
So the lesson is force yourself not to be distracted by unessential things.
Second – “Embrace contraints”. Having not enough time is never an excuse. There’s always time to make something you think is important to your business. If you need time to learn a new programming language or 4 hours a week to think about new business opportunities, new products, just schedule that task on your calendar and deal with it as a business appointment. Sometimes you may think :“I don’t have enough people to make a great product”. Believe me, it’s the wrong way to figure out a solution. The limite on resources is the part of the equation I would never change. More people, more time, more marketing budget, more, more, more… It’s not the right way to make your mark. Less is good, less resources force you to be really focused, not waisting time. For a start-up – but I would extend it to every company – that’s the way to go: a start-up – by definition – has no resources.
Recently I’ve been in San Francisco for a business trip, where I met a lot of smart entrepreneurs, and some of them really impressed me for their ideas and their presentation skills. Actually you expect that most of the times, but in this case something different happened. In fact, the most surprising meeting I had, hasn’t been with a bunch of American geeks with a bachelor from Stanford University, but with Mashape Inc, a start-up founded by – be prepared… – 3 Italian guys – Augusto, Michele and Marco -, all in their twentieth. They are the best case I could see in the Valley of a team “embracing constraints” knowing that “tone is in their fingers”. They were competing to create their company, in the best – and the most competitive – place on earth to make it happen. They lived and worked in a single room apartment – someone call it a “loft”, but believe me, my definition better fits to the case -, sharing the place with other young people working on their own dreams too. I leaved San Francisco trying to figure out a way to help, but pretty sure they could have a chance to make a hit.
Now I’m back in Italy and a few days ago I read this :“Mashape got funded!”.
It’s really rare that Italian ideas could get some money in Italy, but getting Silicon Valley investors aboard is more like winning the lottery. It happens once in a million times, it happens only with the brightest people.
Be prepared to read great things about these guys.