The Crunchies College: B-lessons from the winners

On Friday night TechCrunch, VentureBeat, Read/WriteWeb and GigaOM cosponsored the 2007 Crunchies awards in San Francisco. It was a great event, and in case you couldn’t attend, you can catch the video here.

The line-up of finalists in categories like ‘best bootstrapped startup’, ‘Best use of viral marketing’ and ‘Best founder’ was stellar — which speaks only more highly of the winners themselves.

We’ve written about or had contributions from many of them in earlier posts, so we’re using this week’s Found|LINKS to highlight a few of the success attributes and business lessons you can take from this assembly of high-achieving startups. To say this is a knowledge-rich group is an understatement. So settle in for this crash-course from the Crunchies School of Founding.

We don’t include all the categories or winners, but you can refer to the complete list here.

* Best new gadget/device launched in 2007: iPhone. Reread this post by Fake Steve Jobs, on how to motivate your employees The 10 Commandments of Fake Steve Jobs. (This is lesson-by-inversion!) For more humor, watch Fake Steve Jobs (a.k.a., Dan Lyons) in his webcast acceptance speech from Friday night.

* Best business model (for pioneering revenue-creation!):Zazzle. “Zazzle lets consumers become producers by uploading their own images onto that T-shirt, mug, or mousepad [and] receive a commission on products that they sell and design themselves.” For more on new media b-models: A list of Long Tail b-models. Also read The Power of ‘Free’ and the Virtual Toaster.

* Best UI design: SmugMug. “SmugMug’s attention to detail and design can command as much as $150 per year from their users.” See, Why Design Matters, Too. This post was written by Jason Putorti of the startup Mint, a finalist for Most likely to succeed.

* Best enterprise start-up: Zoho. Zoho didn’t always get it right, but they persevered writes Sridhar Vembu, CEO of AdventNet (holding company of Zoho) in On Success, Failure, Rational Faith and Nihilism. (Here are Zoho’s founders accepting the award.) 2202618537_a44bc85cc4_m.jpg
Sridhar writes, proudly: “If everyone gave up because of the overwhelming odds, no progress is possible. In other words, only because enough people accept the overwhelming personal risk of failure, collective progress becomes possible.”

* Best mobile start-up: Twitter In this early F|R post, founder Evan Williams shares what he has learned at previous startups and how he applied those lessons to Twitter. Do as I say, not as I did.

* Best clean tech start-up: Tesla Motors A great company, Tesla has had plenty of bumps. Learn more about founder Elon Musk here. And learn what not emulate, in this post: How NOT to handle a layoff.

* Best use of viral marketing: StumbleUpon “Want tips on how to move to the Valley, take funding, and flip your startup for $75 million in under two years? Watch this week’s episode of “The GigaOM Show” with StumbleUpon founder Garrett Camp.”

* Most likely to succeed (financially): WordPress. See point #5 in this earlier edition of FoundLINKS, where WordPress founder, Matt Mullenweg led us to a terrific piece from Strategy + Business called The Google Enigma. Is the search giant “a model or an enigma?”

* Best start-up founder & Best overall : Mark Zuckerberg & Facebook. This post addresses one stumbling block that Zuckerberg ultimately cleared, but which you ought still to study. Question for Facebook: Better to Ask First, or Apologize Later?

* Best start-up CEO: Toni Schneider, of WordPress. At F|R’s launch Toni authored this great post on “how to get your startup noticed”: The Medium is the Message.