I originally wrote this post in 2012 because many entrepreneurs asked me about my experience at Friendster.  Although a few years old now, the lessons still remain true today. The abridged version is shown below but to see the full text, be sure to read the original post.
  • Focus.  It’s critical for a startup to have a clear focus, especially early on!  Focus comes in many flavors.  One key area of focus is product-focus.
  • Product (ship new product fast & often).  A start-up must balance the need and desire to constantly innovate to stay interesting, fresh and ahead of the competition with the critical need to stay focused!
  • Performance.  The site must be fast!  Friendster made some early ‘bet the company’ issues on the product side that proved to be very costly.
  • Technology (& Good Luck).  Don’t experiment with the newest technologies when you have a fast growing startup!
  • Viral.  If the goal is to grow fast without spending a fortune, one must focus on viral features!
  • Customers.  Know Thy Customer!
  • Hiring.  You must hire A+ players!  There was a lot of pressure early on at Friendster to hire quickly, especially on the engineering team.  Friendster tried to hire too many people too quickly.
  • Leadership.  A start-up needs to have steady leadership, especially at the top!  Great leadership is required for companies’ success at any level.
  • Politics.  There’s no place for politics in a fast-moving startup.
  • Revenue.  Focus on the Product First, Revenue later!  This is a tough one for many start-ups and frankly not always the right call.

This interview was originally published by the Duke Global Entrepreneurship Network on August 28, 2012.

Jim Scheinman T ’88 is a serial entrepreneur, angel investor, and advisor to start-up companies in Silicon Valley. He is a pioneer in social networking and engagement marketing, a relatively new form of marketing and the predominant source of revenue for facebook and other online social networks. Jim is most prominently known for his role as employee number one (essentially a co-founder) at Bebo, the third largest social network in the world when it was acquired by AOL in early 2008 for $850M. Since his founding of his angel investment business Maven Ventures in 2008, he has had 3 successful exits, two of which were Google acquisitions. Today, several of his investments are leaders in their industry with tens of millions of customers and tens of millions in capital raised, including Tango, Zoom, Pageonce and Banjo.

To read the full interview, navigate to the Duke Global Entrepreneurship Network.