Stepping back and looking over the entrepreneurial community, what trends do you see?
It’s getting cheaper and easier to start companies, and the software frameworks are much better than they were even when I started in Mint back in 2006. My biggest concern, though, is there are a huge number of startups working on what I think are very, very small ideas, whether they be gaming or social or local things that just don’t have the groundswell necessary to beat the big companies, which tends to happen at a time of transformation. If you got into mobile in 2007, 2008 you can definitely win that market. Now, sometimes, I feel like it’s too late, and there are 500,000 apps in the App Store and they’re all beholden to Apple or a couple of large companies, so I’ve seen a lot more wealth being created in enterprise and internationally.
What’s the biggest piece of advice you have for other entrepreneurs?
Solve a real problem. You don’t start a company because you want to be an entrepreneur or the fame and glory that comes along with it. You become an entrepreneur and you create a company to solve a real problem. And by real problem, I mean a problem that is going to exist down the line… A lot of people start companies that are really just features, like a URL shortener, and some of those companies raise millions of dollars. And is this a problem that’s going to exist ten years from now?
Reminds me of Zach Abramowitz’s litmus test for disruptive companies.