Paul Graham has done it again. He wrote a beautiful article on How to Start a Startup:
You need three things to create a successful startup: to start with good people, to make something customers actually want, and to spend as little money as possible. Most startups that fail do it because they fail at one of these. A startup that does all three will probably succeed.
I did start what one could call a startup and I failed. I did work like hell for a few short years. I made some good money, but all of it is long gone. However, I learned a lot.
One issue was that we didn’t have the right people. The other issue is that my love of money was not great enough. You’ve got to actually badly want to make money. All I wanted was to find a way to get paid to do interesting work.
These days, the money suck (a professorship is no way to make a living), but I pretty do what I like to do.
I think I still mostly want to be left in peace to my own ideas and work with collaborators I like. I think I’m succeeding at getting what I want. I will never become a big shot professor running a large laboratory (I would hate it), I will never become a filthy rich industry consultant (though I wouldn’t mind doubling my salary) because I will always pick contracts out of interest more than out of greed.
Lesson? I don’t know. Don’t listen to me, listen to Paul Graham and go start a startup, become filthy rich. It sounds like a great plan. I’m a lost cause.