Evan Williams’ five best screwups at Odeo

There’s a good write-up over on Om Malik’s blog but here are my notes from part of Evan Williams’ talk at the Future of Web Apps event in San Francisco last week:
Evan Williams at Future of Web AppsMy five best odeo screw ups:

1) we were trying to build too much stuff from the get-go

2) building for people not like ourselves: should have focused on listeners more, it turned out that not a lot of people didn’t want to use our podcast building tool

3) not adjusting fast enough: should have been more honest; wasn’t a purple cow by the time we got it out into the market engineered more and more for on page listening, flash players you could embed in other pages

4) raising too much money, too early

  • $70k to build the first version (Noah and a couple of contract developers)
  • opportunity to announce at TED
  • Ev joined the company full-time and put in another $100k
  • Angel-fund raising went well (over $1M committed after a month)
  • went and talked to a couple of VCs, made the rounds at a few different firms, charles river ventures (George Zackary)– three times valuation that we were raising the angel money at–> what should we do? –> decided to do at VC valuation instead of angel valuation. Rolled angels into that round
  • why was this problematic: think of money like fuel, see how people apply that fuel… you need to have the engine to put that fuel into, you can pour it on the floor and light a fire and do nothing (ha). Odeo didn’t have a product or a proven market
  • Google has fuel
  • scaled down our team
  • best scenario is probably to have the fuel waiting around until you are ready to burn the fuel

5) Not listening to my gut

“When I came hom from work I sat down and I forced myself to code for a hour or two. The enemy was thinking, whenever I paused or started to think I would force myself to type something, its amazing how much you can get done when you just type.” –Markus Frind, plentyoffish.com

‘Don’t talk. Type.’ big poster…”