Garage Philosophy Leads To Big Things

Mark Fletcher spoke about his experience starting ONElist and Bloglines at this month’s SDForum in Palo Alto. I like his advise about doing it on the cheap.

I am a cheap bastard when it comes to startups. With ONElist I was, you know, $55,000 got us through a million users. With Bloglines it was $200,000 from start to finish. It’s so cheap to start and run these web companies, especially if you do it virtually. Like, with ONElist, we didn’t have an office for the first year; we all kind of met at my townhouse once or twice a week. With Bloglines, we were all just, we just sat on IM in a chat room all the time, and it didn’t really matter where anybody was. So there’s no need for an office. There’s no need for business cards. There’s no need for any of that stuff. It just doesn’t matter. And besides all that, you know, somebody said the phrase, “Money is oxygen for startups,” and that’s true. Without money, you die. So the less you burn through, the longer you can live; the less you have to raise, the better position that you’re in. So be as cheap and as frugal as possible. I cannot emphasize that enough.

ONElist went online in January 1998, merged with competitor eGroups at the end of 1999, and was acquired by Yahoo! for $450 million in June 2000. Bloglines was acquired by Ask Jeeves in February 2005.
[via Naill Kennedy]



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.