Debuting FoundWatch: "The Art of the Startlet" with Guy Kawasaki

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Today we introduce FoundWATCH, our new series of video Q&As with business luminaries — serial founders, thought leaders in entrepreneurship, big name investors, and more — all of whom will share their hard-earned wisdom for how you can be more successful with your startups.

Our first interview is with Guy Kawasaki, famously dubbed the “innovation evangelist” and a long time Silicon Valley-based investor. Guy’s seed- and early-stage venture capital firm, Garage Technology Ventures, is still known colloquially as simply “Garage.com,” a nod to the firm’s high status as an incubator of the dotcom boom. Today in “The Art of the Startlet,” Guy offers his rationale for how you can start a company with $25,000, or less — and why, for your sanity (and your success ratio) it is imperative that you do so.

“Life is simpler. There is a lot less pressure. It is a better way to go, even in a better economy, because more people can try more $25,000-things than they can [try] $2 million things.”

Guy first made a name for himself in the mid-1980’s, at Apple Computer. He was responsible for marketing the Macintosh. Jobs dubbed him Apple’s “chief evangelist.” Guy has since written eight books including, The Art of the Start (2004), a “battle-hardened guide for anyone starting anything.” It belongs at the top of your reading list.

Six months ago, Guy became a founder again when he launched the news site, Truemors. Web-based news is a crowded space. But Kawasaki isn’t daunted. His play: Truemors lets readers post rumors, which are then vetted through voting and made into news stories, or not. He evangelizes it as he did the Mac:

[we] believe in demonstrative technology—that is, products that enable the open exhibition and expression of information, emotions, and opinions. Where democratization implies that the many can read the content of the few, demonstrative technology enables the many to create content too.

Citizen journalism, plus. Truemors is an idea that has had mixed reviews. By Kawasaki’s own admission, that’s OK. If it will, he can afford for Truemors to fail. Not because of who he is, but because he started it on the cheap — with just $12,000. The fiscal risk of his experiment is low, which helps keep his emotional “costs” manageable, too. So, if Guy needs to quit and start anew on the next idea, letting go is more accessible, with less ache.

Guy thinks you’ll need a bit more money than he needed. (“I was able to call in a lot of favors.”) Hence the $25,000 threshold. It still isn’t much money, but Guy lays it all out in “The Art of the Startlet,” even ticking off the things you should prioritize and those you should not waste a dime on:

“Do spend on engineering and good lawyers. Don’t spend on outside marketing or PR.”

Like all founders, Guy is busy. When he catches a break, he often spends it at a hockey rink in Redwood City, where his amateur club team holds a regular pick-up game. (A native of Hawaii, Kawasaki hit the ice because his four children play the sport. “It’s how I get to spend more time with them.”)

This is where we caught up with Guy: sitting rink side, in a lounge, working on Truemors, off a wireless network he personally paid to have installed there, for just these sorts of moments.

Plenty of Found|READ pieces reference other of Guy’s wisdom. Here’s a list:
1) Settling on the startup idea.
2)Funding it.
3) Launching it.
4) Valuing it.

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