Does your startup need to be massive?

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by serial entrepreneur and investor Howard Lindzon of StockTwits and SocialLeverage. He was born and raised in Toronto and has a soft spot for his hometown and Canadian entrepreneurs.  Follow him on Twitter @howardlindzon or StockTwits @howardlindzon.

Photo by Paul (dexx)
Creative Commons License - By 2.0 Some rights reserved Photo by Paul (dex)

In 2008, I was using every speaking chance I was offered to preach that there was never a better time to start a web business. I also put my money where my mouth was and invested in more companies than I could afford and started Stocktwits.

Let’s assume you followed the advice and failed. Most startups do. You were Lindzon’d. Sorry.

Good news…you learned a lot and the funding market, never easy, is more open than ever.

Better yet, the mentoring system and pool of talented angel investors looking to reinvest has never been wider and deeper.

Techmeme, Hacker News, Fred Wilson, Brad Feld, LInked In, Twitter, Facebook and of course Stocktwits ….all better than ever for connecting, getting smarter about starting businesses and finding the right trends to ride. Y combinator may be too crowded, but Tech Stars, Founder Labs and Startup Weekends are open.

It is a little intimidating right now to take the first steps because of the bubble talk, startup revolution, competition and massive reach of the last group of leaders. There is not one Tiger Woods of startups, there are 5 you will ultimately stress yourself out comparing yourself too…Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Zynga and Groupon.

Don’t get caught up in the ‘I need to be Massive’ talk. It’s a trap. Take the ‘Massive’ lessons of geniuses like Reid Hoffman from this great post and than get to work on getting massive one step at a time.

The game of Risk and world domination is won from the corners of the world unless you can roll non stop 6?s. Don’t bet on that stuff and don’t pitch your investors on stuff they won’t believe.

Editors Note: This post was originally published on on March 23, 2011 @copy;2011 Howard Lindzon. Republished with permission.

About Howard Lindzon

Born in Toronto, lived in Phoenix for 20 years and now in Coronado, CA with a loyal wife (15 years, 14.2 Canadian years), two awesome kids and a dachshund. Schools – University of Western Ontario, Arizona State University, American Graduate School of International Management (Thunderbird). My current start-up is called Stocktwits and I am a co-founder and CEO. I also manage a hedge fund and have done so since June of 1998. I make early stage investments though Social Leverage. In the Summer of 2006, I created Wallstrip and with the help of Adam Elend, Jeff Marks, Lindsay Campbell and a hard working crew we created over 300 shows. In May 2007, Wallstrip was purchased by CBS. I am a partner in two other funds called Knight’s Bridge Capital Partners . I moved out west to play golf, but now rarely do. My hobbies include driving my kid’s to activities and staying awake. I am in pursuit of the perfect sleep solution. Endless bad ideas – trust me!

  • Jonas

    Under promise, over deliver. But Howard, to clarify, you aren’t encouraging Canadian entrepreneurs to hunt for chipmunks… are you?

  • Kenneth Seville

    If you read the web tech. press everything can be reduced to a billion $ business or “dipshit company”. Unfortunately that attitude has become prevalent with most investors or even entrepreneurs. You are either shooting for the stars from the beginning or you are only going to eke out a meager living in a cottage business. I’ve had enough of these reductions. Many cottage companies turn into billion $ businesses and many billion $ dreams end up the walking dead or worse. Just choose something interesting and go after it, you never know where it will take you.

  • Guest

    Good point. It’s a common theme in business that either you go big or go home, but what’s wrong with a business that can go without financing and works in a specific field and makes a tidy sum?

    There are too many businesses that I have seen (or worked for) that tried to be everything to everybody so that they would look like a powerhouse. The end result (in my experience) was that these companies failed to do much of what they promised.