In the weeks leading up to the deadline for YEI's Summer Fellowship application (January 18th), we've asked past Fellows to share their advice for starting a company - and applying for the fellowship.
By Avery Faller
Think about it: would you rather attempt to create something audacious and new that, if successful, will disrupt the way the world works, or rebuild an existing company with a slightly different twist? Also the name for the current Big Apple Circus performance at Lincoln Center, “Dream Big” should be a key strategy you employ as you develop the idea for your company.
Whatever path you choose, there is no guarantee that your company will succeed and personally, given the choice, I would rather be working on an idea that I was truly passionate about, that I want to put my all into.
If you think of the advancements that have been made in the world in the past ten years, you can see that big ideas hail from any number of sources: everything from childhood aspirations to a deep understanding of a market. Now I admit, not all successful companies are centered on truly unique ideas (look at the recent flood of recurring-payment diaper websites). Even the latest articles on TechCrunch may not focus on new companies, but rather on new features being launched by big established companies or large companies buying smaller companies for their technological talent, rather than their ideas. But the ones that are doing something new seem to consistently draw my attention and inspire me to build and create companies and technologies of my own.
How do you dream big? Where should you look for inspiration? Reading science fiction novels, holding brainstorming sessions with your friends, and reading the science and technology section of the newspaper are all good idea. The entrepreneurs and VCs who are consistently the best in the world at dreaming big often combine a combine a childlike naivety about what is possible with the acute business know-how of assembling top-tier teams from extremely talented individuals.
To be clear, encouraging radicalism is not an endorsement or excuse for you to found a company whose goal is so impossible that there is no realistic way for you to accomplish it, but if you have invented a method of solving a problem or technological knowledge that would lower the difficulty level of a problem from impossible to plausible, than you may just be on your way to founding a great start-up.
Avery Faller (YEI '11, YC '11) is a cofounder of Roammeo, a realtime event discovery engine. Avery also works as the Media Intern at YEI.