I just got back from the Valley again this week, and six months into this recession, I am still surprised to hear so much fear from entrepreneurs. This is really no time to play it conservative. As a basic definition, entrepreneurs grab uncertainty as opportunity instead of something to be feared.
Seriously, it wasn't that long ago that you had no job, no funding, and barely an inkling of an idea, and you saw THAT as an opportunity so you must be fucking insane.
I guess people really did think it was going to be easy. As Dave McClure said so well in a recent rant, the Valley was/is way too infatuated with the "elegant idealism" of entrepreneurship. The fact that I heard that laid off financial services folks are looking at startups as a "good second bet" is really not a great sign for high quality startups that are actually going to make it through the rough patches.
As for those that are already out there. Would you say your startup is flinching? Time to snap out of it. You flinch in a startup and your dead. When a co-founder leaves, another VC says no, your major customer disappears overnight -- you pick yourself up and find a way that this makes your startup stronger. If you have a big, amazing idea that just must exist in the world, now is the time you really wanted.
Yes, many VCs are panicking, looking to invest a little later, playing it safer on the startup with all the checkboxes filled than the one with higher risk because it's a bigger idea. But, let's just be honest, most VC are wimps. They are going to be the first one's to panic because by their very nature they are more conservative. They are the one's playing a portfolio strategy, remember? You are not, you are all in so make it count.
And no, I'm not feeling confident just because things have been going well with Conduit so far. I remember vividly after the dot-com crash that we had 30 days to sell our startup before the cash ran out for us and our 35 employees (we did it). Or the 2+ years of fundraising for Ambient Devices which felt like the Bataan death march (just found out Ambient doubled their revenues in '08, btw). I'm sure, before things are done with Conduit Labs, we'll have some very dark moments. But I'm determined to make sure they only make us stronger.
Yeah, there's some dark moods out there. But realize that yet again, it'll be us entrepreneurs that are going to get hit, then pick ourselves up when no one believes but us, and kick some ass. Just like we did the last time. And the few VCs who still invest in the big, scary ideas are going to make a killing.
As for me, I'm pumped. Oh, and the blog is back. Another one is coming in a few days.