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In the last 10 years, I have more than a handful of friends, classmates, and acquaintances telling me:

“I have a great idea for an app. How about we work together?”

I am genuinely happy that they are thinking about creating something they want, or making a business out of it.

But often, all I can do for them is:

“As a friend, I love to hear about your idea, and give advice on mobile app development. But most likely I wouldn’t be able to develop for you.”


1. Ideas Are Not Enough

Often, the main motivation for creating their app is because they have an idea.

They think the idea is cool.

My positive reply often is:

“Yes, this is a good idea. There will be people who would need/like to use the app.”

Then my less positive reply goes:

“Who is the closest competitor to your idea? Why do you think they didn’t succeed?”

These are very important questions in grinding the idea.

It is also my polite way of saying: Ideas Are Cheap

Ideas are nothing. Someone in this world must had the same idea, of some variation to yours. Nothing is original.

You should not start a company just because of an idea.

2. Startup Is Hard

To succeed with one, is hard.

And even if you did, it will take many years.

I know because I have 10 years of experience with 2 startups.

The first startup: I spent 7 years, as a founding member. The company is now 9 year old, yet it is still trying to become profitable. It didn’t die only because the investor is also the co-founder, so think how much he has to lose first.

The second startup: I joined after their Series A funding. It is now 3 year old, and recently had Series B, thus providing a 1+ year runway. Maintaining a hockey stick growth is not easy, and the end of a runway is always in sight.

I don’t know about you. But I don’t have that many 10 years ahead.

So I have to choose wisely for the path to take.

3. Risking Friendship

It is more hairy when you are friends before you become co-workers.

Mobile app development cost is much higher than you think. I cannot charge lower (or free!), because you are friend.

And if the business fail (90% will), then the friendship will be awkward. Because my friend would have lost, and transferred, a sum of money to me..

When things fail, we will find reasons. And many times, the “blame” will include: product is not good enough.

All eyes will be on the developer, but I am certain that is not fair.

I value friendship, and with all risks considered, I will rather not sacrifice it.

4. Experience

In a tech startup, you need the tech guy – the CTO/programmer.

The “idea guy” often is the “CEO”, promissing to cover the marketing, sales, and fund raising.

It is fair to split such responsibilities between 2 co-founders.

Yet, very often, my “idea guy” friend is one with no experience in the area he handles. Neither had he work in a startup before. If he tries to be the CPO (Product), it could get even uglier.

Having 2 co-founders with unequal experience and skill is a mismatch.

Yet, I still want to work in startup

I still enjoy working in a small team, contributing significantly and creatively.

After spending so much time with startup, I now have a better understanding of the kind of culture, environment and co-workers I want.

I may even create that “startup”.

This is the first post in where I share a non-technical article. Hope you like it (:




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