I started this cycle of entrepreneurship in January 2008 so today seems like a great day to summarize what I've learned, that way when I do the same mistakes all over again I can tell my self "told you so"...
So here's a list of five insights, unfortunately some mistakes should be kept confidential for now...
1. Always listen to what people in the center of business are saying. We heard people we know from start-ups in NY saying there's a financial Tzunami coming sometimes in Q2 2008. We should have taken this more seriously.
2. We need customers! As a start-up that did not choose the "stealth mode" way, we want customers. We want people to know we exist, we want to test our system in production environment, we want to face reality. That's a trivial insight, but start-ups sometimes deal too much with the product.
3. Stick to your vision, small adaptation can sometimes do the difference. We started with a clear vision of enhancing live online video, then after getting some feedback the vision was expanded and expanded until our potential customer/partner became anyone in the world... Then we realized that a start-up must focus and focused back on the initial plan with one technological change that will make it much more interesting.
4. The quality of the delivery isn't a "supreme value". With our first customer (pilot actually), we hired servers, made stress tests, added monitoring etc. etc. I did everything I'd learned in previous jobs to keep the QOS. In the meanwhile I kept reading on how the twitter service is failing every day. So it's not a direct comparable but still - look where twitter is today. My point is that the appeal of the product, it's usability and UI are far more important in initial stages then the QOS.
5. Always have a car. it's nice to save money but a full year without a car is no fun.
Happy new Tzunami year!