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TLDR GraphicYet another “Lessons Learned” post from a first-time entrepreneur.  Except this one is incredibly wise beyond his years.  The insights are so in depth and valuable that even the most seasoned serial entrepreneur would be envious. The sad part is, since the article is not one of those pithy “10 secrets to building a successful venture” posts, it will be lost on the typical reader seeking quick-fix advice.


Worthless Advice?

I have a deep cynicism when reading first-time entrepreneurs pontificating advice based on what they learned.

Most of their insights are based on what surprised them, because they were so inexperienced to begin with. While “make sure you don’t run out of cash” may have been a painful epiphany for them – the advice is hardly worth publishing for the millionth time.  Just imagine a first-time coder pontificating as an expert his “lessons learned” – citing that you should always check for missing semi-colons and mismatched brackets. To be fair, beginners would indeed find this advice useful – but does someone need to write about it again? One would think there are enough posts out there to max out a google search on the topic.


TLDR; – At Your Own Risk!

Alex Schiff, the young co-founder of Fetchnotes (which may or may not still be in business)  – has penned an epic post on everything he has learned in starting, building and eventually exiting his startup company.  Don’t like his frat-boy image fool you (actually I think he actually IS still a frat-boy, or college student!). The post, Lessons from the front lines: building Fetchnotes  is jammed back with incredible insights that will benefit beginner and veteran alike.

I could not even begin to do justice by posting excerpts, but here are just a few …

  • You can find product-market-fit with the wrong group of customers.    (incredibly insightful) …
  • Product-market-fit moves.  (ie – your market is a moving target …)
  • Know where your product begins and ends.
  • re: competition, you’re probably way too worried about it. Chances are, they have no idea who you are, and even if they did know who you are, your existence wouldn’t change their business strategy very much.
    • this is an insight usually reserved for veterans of 3-4 startups.
  • The only thing more powerful than the laziness of the average consumer is their unwillingness to spend money. People will go through mind-blowing lengths to avoid paying just one dollar.
    • another insightful gem!


Despite the length of the article, he really identifies and clarifies some of the most critical issues in starting a successful venture.  And despite his age and experience – this advice is not for newbies! Most of this advice will be lost on brand-new entrepreneurs – but the veterans will appreciate the clarity. And experienced advisors and mentors will be able to use this article as a way to impart some advanced topics in starting a new venture, to new entrepreneurs.

Read Lessons from the front lines: building Fetchnotes  now!  Thank you, Alex.



Written by CJ Cornell

CJ Cornell

Serial Entrepreneur. University Professor. Software Engineer. Media Executive. Venture Capitalist. Researcher. Marketer. Advisor. Mentor. Author and Speaker. Founded or co-founded nearly a dozen companies in software, digital media and television.

For the past few years I’ve been Co-Director of the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship and Professor of Digital Media & Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University, and the university’s first full time Entrepreneur-in-Residence. Currently Visiting Professor of Entrepreneurship & Innovation at New York Institute of Technology and Managing Director at Propel Ventures LLC.


One Response to Entrepreneurship – Advanced Insights from a Beginner

  1. Entrepreneurship is all about intensity and an entrepreneur is one who always hunts for a change answers to it and utilizes it as a turn. I don’t know what a successful entrepreneur usually thinks, but I know one thing i.e he always thinks bigger. Yes, initially entrepreneurship is a friendless road, but one can find others on the way after covering certain miles. Well, so many businesses are created everyday, but most of them fail within a year. Because they don’t know how to make an effective start up. Like pain, failure is also inescapable, but it depends upon the person whether he will stick to it or make a come back. Here, you have illustrated with some mind blowing information regarding the tactics of entrepreneurship for a beginner. Moreover, I can say that one needs to make the investment in the right way from the beginning to become triumphant at the end.

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