Startup dilemma – what, when, how to share?

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Lets have a role play- You are an innovative startup company, and I am an established giant (aka Goog/Y!).

Who do you fear the most? Other startups? or the Biggies?
I know, its the B-word..don’t worry, you are not the only one!

Startups participating in TechCrunch’s Tech20 have a similar concern.
Tech20 is a conference where 20 startups from around the world will demo their products. And the selection will be done by 20 experts!

Now, that sounds like an ideal vision 2020, right? 20 startups, 20 experts!
What’s the problem then?

The problem is that the panel of experts include Marissa Meyer [of Google], Brad [Yahoo!], Caterina Fake (Flickr, Yahoo!).

And these big names (and their associations with biggies) spell life-threatening alarms for any startup, ‘coz startups are supposed to talk about funding, backers, usage statistics, business model, planned features and competitive advantage etc., while submitting their nomination.

In short, you need to ‘bare all’ and share what you’ve been secretly planning for the last few months!!
And let’s not forget that what a startup can accomplish in 6 months, Google can do it in probably half the time [with 100X impact!].

As one of the startup puts it

Are you saying is that Marissa and Brad get to see our TC20 company submissions, including private information you’ve requested like funding, backers, usage statistics, business model, planned features and competitive advantage?

And since the TC20 conference is not until September, do they get to see all this information 4 months before the service is even launched?

…For the record I can’t see how on earth you thought that this would be a good idea. The most difficult question we entrepreneurs face from investors these days is “what are you going to do if Google/Yahoo start doing what you are doing?”… At least with a first mover advantage our startups might have a fighting chance to get traction before we get run over by “the new Microsoft” (aka Google).

The next problem is, can you promise Marissa’s and Brad’s opinions on participating companies won’t be swayed but what features and products they have planned for the future? No you can’t.

Sad, but true. A small price you’ve gotta pay, if you are a startup!
What do you say?

Technorati tags: tc20, startup dilemma

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