Ram Shriram, comes across as a very level headed guy and not one to fall foul of excesses. One may have thought that the initial angel investor and a founding board member at Google, may have let the company’s success and his foresight into taking a punt on its founders inflate his ego. But no, not Midas-listed Ram.
Talking at the Web 2.0 Summit, Ram points out that the threshold for starting an Internet business has never been lower. In fact, his take is that you should get something built quickly, and then figure out the business model as you move forward.
Rather than taking too much money too early, he advises entrepreneurs to be scrappy, lean and nimble and develop a laser-like focus. You must build a beachhead, then expand into contiguous areas and you have a product.
His approach is that entrepreneurs should bootstrap and get to early user validation – if they come then half your battle is won. Then you can figure out your business model.
I agree with Ram’s thesis with respect to Web 2.0 ventures, but there is one large caveat I’d apply — you must have a really good idea and an awesome team and then it’s all in the execution. Users will come if your product is useful, if it’s exceptional, they’ll evangelise it for you — then and only then, is your battle half won.
UPDATE: Matt Marshall over at VentureBeat has some further coverage of Ram’s comments.