Want to start a successful start-up? Stop listening to Bill Gates

I dislike the articles that centralize all the tips that Bill Gates offers to make a startup successful for several reasons:

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A. I’m not Bill Gates. What is true about him is not necessarily true about me. We are two different people.

B. What worked for Bill Gates at a particular point in time and place, in a particular market and under certain circumstances, is not necessarily appropriate and true to my current circumstances and timing.

third. Bill Gates did not become Bill Gates thanks to the fact that he read tips on how to be Bill Gates. He just was him.

D. There are so many ways to tell a story, and it is not certain that the way a person retroactively summarizes the story of his life, or the story of his business success, is necessarily the right (and certainly not the only) way to summarize it.

God. Like Bill Gates, there are many other models for success. Each of them acted differently and what worked for one did not necessarily work for the other, so which of the models to adopt?

For all these reasons and more, I have an allergy to using unusual success models such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, especially when they come up as an argument in an argument. If my partner and I are arguing about the desired course of action in a particular case, the “but that’s what Bill Gates did” argument straightens out the list of counter-arguments I just listed, and many more.

On the other hand, I wrote all this long introduction to quote something Bill Gates said, which I very much agree with and experience on my flesh these days. In a television interview a few decades ago, Bill Gates and legendary investor Warren Buffett were hosted and asked to write on a piece of paper without prior coordination, what is the one word that sums up their business success. Although one of them is the most famous software engineer in history and the other is the most successful investor in history, they both wrote down the exact same answer: focus. Focus, Attention, Concentrator – in whatever language you choose to express this concept, it’s a very annoying word. To focus means to give up, and I in my character have a very hard time with that. For me when I go to a restaurant (the elderly among us remember that it was once possible to sit in a restaurant and eat there, not just order delivery), I want to swallow all the dishes on the menu.

And since for reasons of capacity and cost I am forced to choose only one serving, or maybe one and another supplement, I am actually asked to give a negative answer to dozens of other servings. . I really have a hard time choosing and not because I don’t like anything, on the contrary – because I like everything. In each choice I actually choose to give up a lot of options that fascinate me, and at least until I enjoy my choice I suffer from having to make so many concessions.

The great thinkers dealt with the complex emotional conflicts surrounding choice, and suffice it to mention Erich Fromm’s famous thesis expressed in his book “Escape from Freedom” published in 1941 and describes, among other things, the bondage a person feels when he is required to choose versus the freedom he feels when he has no choice. Choices to choose from.

These days, when the company I founded together with my partner Ilan three months ago is taking its first steps, we are constantly required to choose. We raised a modest amount of money, we have a very high quality but limited manpower, the money we raised will suffice for a respectable but not very long period of time in which we must generate enough value to justify another round of investment on a higher scale – hence we must be very focused. In the stages that preceded the establishment of the company, when Ilan and I just sat in front of the erasable board and started coming up with ideas, the goal was not to focus but on the contrary – to disperse. To come up with as many ideas as possible, not to judge them too critically, but to let the muse lead us without a definite goal and be thrown in all directions.

It was an exciting and thrilling experience that eventually led us to the inevitable step of choice and focus. Nowadays, as we set out and the hourglass (the budget available to us) runs out as time goes on, we must get used to remembering Gates and Buffett’s teaching and remembering that the key to success lies in being able to focus. Each of our eight company employees has lots of ideas, and every day when I meet with friends and acquaintances from the industry and tell them in a few sentences about our vision, each of them sees before his eyes something a little different.

This is part of the magic of a far-reaching and ambitious vision. When I close my eyes and imagine what the app we are developing will look like in three years from now, when it will already have many users and a large community behind it, I imagine a great evening of possible uses for it. This fantasy is like the North Star signifying the destination for us, but to reach it we need to build the trajectory to it step by step. And in every choice we make, for example – what features of the product to develop for its first version and what to postpone to an unknown date, we are forced to painfully give up some of this pleasant fantasy.

Shaul Olmert, founder of Flying Pigs Shaul Olmert, founder of Flying Pigs Photo: Uriel Cohen

It is easy to forget in retrospect that even the most complex and sophisticated products we are used to using, began to be a small and very focused product. Facebook, which today is a news system, a television channel system from all over the world and in all languages, an interpersonal communication system, a system for managing groups and communities, a sophisticated advertising system and what not – started with a very simple product that allowed prestigious university students in the United States to rate young students. The private car, as we know it today, with a hybrid engine, collision detection and warning system, sliding chairs, electric windows, windshield washer, audio system, power steering and automatic transmission – is the result of decades of evolution of a product that started in a very configurable Basic.

When developing a product one must focus solely on the features necessary for its functioning and postpone at a later date most of the plugins and ideas that can make a big difference in the experience but are not necessary for its functioning. Throughout development, some of these ideas will re-emerge at a more accurate time, or may not be relevant anyway as the product will evolve in other directions that are currently difficult to anticipate. The trick is to constantly remind yourself what the basis of your vision is, and make sure the developing product serves it. Anything that is not necessary to realize this vision – will probably have to wait on the sidelines for another time. And in order to fulfill the vision, one must first learn to give up. Delay. to put aside. Say no. Or in one word – focus. Sometimes Bill Gates and Warren Buffett know what they’re talking about.