Sat Jan 19 20:12:00 -0800 2008

So far, all of my posts have been about programming. But in fact, I spend almost as much time thinking about entrepreneurship. Marketing (meaning: understanding your product audience), financing, and generally running an efficient business. So I’m going to start diving into those topics a bit more here.

I’ll kick things off by mentioning a podcast that all entrepreneurs should listen to: Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders, which is a recording of a weekly presentation at Stanford. Each week they bring a different speaker, all of whom are succesful entrepreneurs, and most of which have extremely compelling stories to tell. These folks have some incredible wisdom that all of us still working to make it big should soak up in full.

Although most of the speakers are founders of software businesses, there’s a few biotech and other fields represented. Even though these are less relevant to me personally, I find these more interesting, because I know less about those fields. But there’s plenty to be learned from those speakers all the same. Building a good product and running a business to achieve long-term success are the same no matter what field you’re in.

After I had listened to a few of these, it struck me how same themes recur again and again. Build a great team. Listen to your customers. Stand out from the crowd. Stick to it, even when times get tough (and they will).

Perhaps the most repeated point is: do what you love. You have to be passionate about what you’re doing. You have to believe in it, more than anyone else.

This echos Guy Kawasaki’s phrase from The Art of the Start: “Make meaning, not money.” Choose your business venture because you believe you can make the world a better place, not because you think it’s where the most money can be made.

Depending on how you count, Heroku is about the fifth venture I’ve cofounded. Our vision - making it fast and easy to build, deploy, and scale web applications using the most advanced programming language in the world - is one that has deep personal significance for me. Whether or not this vision is meaningful to the wider world will be decided by the market. But I know that my own motivation will not be a constraint, because my belief in, passion for, and excitement toward the meaning we are trying to create is unbounded.