Are You Building A Feature or a Company?

A couple of things are bouncing around in my head today.

First, I’m working on another tool because I’ve experienced significant pain over the past year and have heard from others that they too have this problem. I’m pretty sure it’s a feature and not a business, but it’s a feature I need so I’m building it in my own slow, error-prone way.

Which leads me to this question: are you building a feature or a company? A company is comprised of one or more people (unless it’s a Romney shell company) organized around products or services, with the intention of generating revenue–hopefully enough to keep the company alive. (See Fred’s post today on sustainable companies).

A feature could be one or more features that you build and release into the ether for the benefit of anywhere from zero to countless people, but with no sustainable revenue or people organized around it.

I think I’m building a feature in this case.

Next, I’m reviewing applications for the first Startup Lancaster Investor Day later in October.

Man, I can’t believe it’s October. So much I haven’t finished. 

I hate the startup application thing, like for accelerators or pitch contests, or funding from govt programs. But after reviewing responses to my light-weight application form for Investor Day, I have new appreciation for a more involved filtering process.

Of the (only) 7 applications, maybe 3 of the companies are ready to look for funding. When I say “ready”, I don’t mean in terms of product, but in terms of how they communicate about their companies, products, and markets.

The goal of the Investor Day is to learn from each other and from the panel of investors and founders. Our group has a lot to learn–even the experienced founders can learn something.

I’m encouraged, though, but the obvious passion from some of them. Three are mostly ready, but I’l add two to the list because they can really use the help, and that’s what Startup Lancaster is all about. One of the applicants doesn’t belong there at all–no product at all.

Next week at the normally scheduled meetup, we’ll talk about raising capital and practice our pitches. Most of us aren’t really suited for venture capital, so part of the discussion will be about other sources of investment.

It’s a beautiful day, and as much as I love working on this feature (complete with streaming!) I’m going to jump out there with the Bear and go for a hike while it lasts.

Maybe as I walk I’ll sort through some thoughts about the feature and see if there’s a business there, but my passion is around search, social, and community, so this little feature is not likely to make it past the completion stage.

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