Cars & Startups

Sean here, the other founder of MyPunchbowl.

Let’s see, its been about 9 months since my last post – yeah, I’m right on schedule! You see, I like to keep my posts very infrequent and rare so that they appreciate in value … sort of like a classic Ferrari.

Speaking of Ferraris, I’ve noticed Matt likes to draw real world :: startup analogies in this blog, so I thought I’d do it my way. I’m a car guy, you see. I like knowing about cars, working on cars, and dreaming about cars that I can’t afford (that’s where Ferraris fit in).

Soooo, ahem, “Running a web startup is like maintaining your car”. Oh wait, I’m supposed to do the “top 5 reasons why” … ok then:

1 – You’ve got to be in tune to know when something is wrong

Sometimes I’m driving with a friend and they hear a strange sound coming from my car (hey, its got 187,000 miles on it!). They say “what is that rubbing sound?” I say “you mean the rusty strip on the rear brake rotors? Yeah, I know about it”. Or, more often I’m driving my car and I hear, for example, a soft whistling from the corner of the driver’s side window. It turns out the rubber window seal needs adjustment. No one else would ever have known that or even heard the noise, but I’m in tune with my car.

How does this relate to startups? We spend so much time with MyPunchbowl that we know it like an old car we drive every day. When users write in and say, for example, “I stopped being able to see how many friends my guests were bringing” we know to tell them they accidentally unchecked “Allow guests to bring up to _____ friends each” in the RSVP options section. Like a strange noise in my car, I usually have an idea of how serious a user’s problem is very quickly.

2 – You’ve got to be realistic

Developing is a balance between the slick, cutting edge “theoretically possible” features, and what makes sense and is reasonable. Could we build a feature that text messages a YouTube video of you singing your invitation over the instrumental-only track of the latest Beyonce single? Yes, in theory. But maybe we’ll start with just plain texting your invitation.

Likewise, am I going to pay $2000 to replace the clutch packs in my AWD transmission because I experience a little torque bind in tight corners? Probably not at this point since that’s half the value of my car. I’ll take the more realistic option of turning off the AWD when I don’t need it (98% of the year). My point is, decisions like this are presented to us all the time (the website one, not the transmission one). It’s up to us to balance all the possibilities, and choose the best realistic path.

That’s enough for now … did I say top 5 reasons? You’ll have to stay tuned for the other 3. Don’t worry, it should be a short 9 or 10 months from now. Until then, check your oil, don’t ride the clutch, and don’t drive slowly in the left lane. Oh and make cool websites.


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