Nordic Track Book Club Review: Smart Start-ups

Smart Start-Ups: How Entrepreneurs and Corporations Can Profit by Starting Online Communities from David Silver had some novel concepts and Silver shared them with a lot of enthusiasm.  The book dropped off hard after around page 130, however, when the author spent 100 pages describing hypothetic companies and how they could approach building online communities.  That didn’t work for me at all.  A fun [NordicTrack] read, 3.5 out of 5 stars.


p.xvii Tape this short message at the top of your computer screen: “My community will not incur costs of goods sold and my members will generate the data and pay me for the privilege of sharing it with other like-minded members.”

p.3 In forming an online or mobile community you will be aggregating users to share stories, artwork, designs, wisdom, songs, pictures, videos, news, or other information, and they will pay you directly or indirectly for the opportunity to do it.

p.5 The first colonists of the Internet were Internet source providers, road builders, infrastructure, retailers… The second wave of colonists of the Internet will be community builders.

p.8 In creating your community remember that liquidity and community mobbing will be central to your success.  If the members do not come in droves, shut it down because it won’t have necessary liquidity.

p.27 If you want people to pay to come to your community and generate content with their time and broadcast it to other members of the community, you must be known for maintaining a “clean restroom.”

p.28 Use a lot of art and as few words as possible in getting your message across. Artists lead cultural change, and artists will become very important in relaying your message.

p.31 Google’s home page began with just 30 words.  Brilliant.

This is a short tip. Ducks skim across the water effortlessly.  They look so serene, but underneath the waterline where nobody can see, they’re padding like crazy.  The message for you, never let them see you sweat.

p.50 In forming your online or mobile community, rely on the wisdom of crowds to generate the community’s data.  Rely on strategic alliances. Your primary capital is trust. Members will provide you with float if you remain credible.  Use a lot of art and few words.  Think primitivism.  Do not be sophisticated.  Manage your reputation aggressively.

p.57 Online marketing is no longer about ad impressions, the number of people who see your advertisements on the web.  It is about experiences.

p.99 If you start a community that you believe will have disruptive effects on parts of Corporate America, be sure that Corporate America knows about it.  Make them know about you early on.  They won’t sue you if you always appear to lack money.

You must gain credibility and to do so I recommend that you avoid selling ad space in your community.  You can do better than that.

p.106 Why doesn’t every Communiteer do a mobile launch rather than an online launch?  Myspace?  Facebook?  I think they made a mistake.  About the time it dawns on them to segue over to mobile, competitors may have slammed the door on them.

p.110 The network affect or buzz could kill a community if it overloads the pages with old media generating schemes.  What the mob gives, the mob can take away.  Some of the early social networks have lost much of their value because their backers and founders talked too much.

p.113 Trust is the only capital you have to spend when you launch your community.

p.116 For a while online and mobile communities will be fun-oriented.

p.119 The purpose of being in business rather than being a poet or Andean trekker, is to make your product or service a substitute for all other competitive products or services and to make their products or services no substitute for yours.



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A long time developer, I was an early adopter of Linux in the mid-90's for a few years until I entered corporate environments and worked with Microsoft technologies like ASP, then .NET. In 2008 I released Sueetie, an Online Community Platform built in .NET. In late 2012 I returned to my Linux roots and locked in on Java development. Much of my work is available on GitHub.