Sand Hill Road
So I made my very first pilgrimage to the famous Sand Hill Road to have lunch with a couple of cool people from a well-known venture firm. Nothing's happening, I was just invited down to chat about the industry and I showed them a demo of the stuff I'm thinking about, and I waved my hands a bit and wrote on a napkin. It was very cool! Okay, I didn't really write on napkin - but I would've if the restaurant (The Sundeck) wasn't such a fancy place with cloth serviettes.
What happens next, of course, I have no idea. I'm a bit far away from the stage where I say "give me money" and even farther from the stage where someone says "here's some cash". I've got a bead on the market and I've got the idea for a product which will meet a market gap, and I've the technical know how to put it together. The part that's missing is those magical numbers. I started putting some things together this weekend, but everything always breaks down to the "big" numbers of phones shipping, how much money is being made in certain markets (ringtones, J2ME and Brew apps) and what the possibilities are for a product or service that meets a certain market demand. That's great from a macro-perspective, but what I really need is more knowledge of startup business growth curves and the infrastructure costs. How much in real terms will it cost to get offices and equipment, legal costs, hiring employees, etc., and how long will it take to ship the product, which paths to market is the best and how long to become profitable? In other words, how do you build a business from a nascent technology idea? That's really the next step for me, getting that stuff worked out beyond just making shit up.
The good thing is that there's definitely a decent lead time in the American market - most valley companies have just started thinking mobile in the past six months or so, even less have actual products out there. Many are still struggling to grok the whole mobile thing in the first place. Example: where is Salesforce.com's mobile CRM solution? I'm sure it's on a drawing board somewhere, but it's definitely some months away. The window is closing quickly and of course there are international competitors, but there's still a chance to get out there and become a player and build a brand. This is one of the things that I got asked today, and I really do think there is a chance to create another Google-like success, but in the mobile space.
Anyways, lots of fun making the trek down to Menlo Park. This is the reason I came back to the Bay Area, this is the sort of opportunity you don't get in other parts of the world. It was lots of fun to hang out with guys who've been playing the startup game for a while (and have been successful and are back for more) and who are interested in mobile so you can have an intelligent conversation about the topic. This is all good, definitely a fun morning.