Marc Andreessen is a software engineer and entrepreneur who first came to fame when he created Netscape, one of the first web browsers in the world. At the same time, Marc is probably better known for investing nowadays and his venture capital firm – Andreessen Horowitz.
As you might expect, the entrepreneur is a prime example for startups and entrepreneurs looking to get ahead in an increasingly competitive landscape. In fact, Andreessen had a huge following on social media and was known for offering advice for these startups on a regular basis. You see, Marc “quit” social media recently in controversial fashion and confines most of his advice to interviews, events and major publications.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at five pieces of advice from Marc Andreessen for entrepreneurs and startup founders:
1. Adapt to Technology or Get Ready to Disappear
Needless to say, Marc is fully aware that technology is changing at an increasingly fast pace. After all, few people know about Netscape today in spite of the browser being such a big deal when it first arrived on the scene.
As the tech guru points out, when technology changes, you need to adapt. At the same time, this is not only true for tech businesses today but rather every business in every industry. You see, more and more major companies rely entirely on software. What’s more, just as many businesses are focused online as opposed to having brick and mortar stores, offices, etc.
For example, Amazon is the prime example of how shopping has moved online but even Wal-Mart has illustrated the power of technology by using software to power distribution and logistics. What’s more, this revolutionary move has enabled them to completely outperform their competitors.
Takeaway – Every business needs to be willing to adapt and change to remain relevant.
2. Master a Modern Style of Leadership
When you take a look at the most successful businesses today, you should see that most of these organizations have a very fluid and flexible style of leadership. More specifically, these businesses are run by inspiring leaders who tend to give out objectives and then leave their subordinates to choose how to reach this goal.
Needless to say, there are many intricacies and differences between all of these leaders. However, it’s clear that freedom is a major force in terms of motivating the workforce. As it turns out, the associated creativity is just as important and often how many top brands manage to come up with especially exciting and ideas en route to reaching a specific objective.
Takeaway – Avoid autocratic leadership and master a modern style of leadership.
3. Build Your Passion Before You Start a Business
As a rule, Andreessen believes that too many businesses are started for the wrong reasons. In other words, startups are usually the result of a product that was created by passion whereas too many startups fail simply because the founder was motivated by becoming their own boss.
Instead, Marc believes that startup founders should focus on the product and ensure that passion is always the key motivator for what they do. When you think about it, this makes perfect sense for many of the best inventions are the result of the creator studying or focusing endlessly on their idea without any real reward.
For example, Apple and Google were both started in a garage. Facebook was created in a college dorm room and when it comes to Andreessen, he built Netscape in a similar setting twenty years ago.
Takeaway – Build for passion and not for the sake of owning a business.
4. Concentrate on Niche
The development has changed a lot in recent decades and startups tend to focus on creating full-service setups as opposed to building particular tools or technology. For example, instead of building a useful niche software for a small business, the startup might take on the role of creating multiple forms of software. What’s more, they will move to full-stack development in order to aim for a bigger market share.
However, Marc is quick to say that these full-stack organizations are much harder to operate and manage. More specially, they require a much greater extent of experience when it comes to management and this also includes the founder.
Takeaway – Try not to overextend the initial purpose of the startup.
5. Introduce the Startup with Honesty
Marc gives great insight into venture capitalists and angel investors. In fact, as you may know, Andreessen is a well-known investor in startups and very familiar with this particular process.
When it comes to the crunch, Marc says that he will only invest in a project when he finds a clear and effective introduction to the company. With this in mind, if the introduction is thin or vague in any way, he moves on to the next project. Interestingly, Andreessen compares this to sales and believes that any failure to properly introduce the company is likely to mean that they will also have trouble trying to sell the product or idea to potential customers later on.
On the other hand, Marc insists that a company that makes an effort, to be honest, and transparent shows willingness to change in order to progress. For example, if they acknowledge past failure, this shows confidence and willingness to adapt in order to succeed.
Takeaway – Create a clear introduction and be honest with investors.
6. But Beware and Be Patient with Investments
When Marc Andreessen started out with Netscape, he picked up some valuable lessons relating to investors. One of these lessons was rather unfortunate and leads him on to say that startup founders and entrepreneurs should be very careful in terms of the credibility of investors.
Although finance may be needed, Marc emphasizes that the investor must be willing to disclose a list of people with whom they have worked in the past. On the other hand, if the venture capitalist is not willing to provide this contact information, it’s often best to decline the investment entirely.
Also, if waiting on the confirmation or an application with a bank, you should expect that this is quite a drawn-out process. In some cases, you might have approval within a couple of months but it will often take three to six months before the finance is available.
Takeaway – Research potential investors before accepting any money.
When it comes to startups, Marc Andreessen is a prime example of how to get ahead. While his exit from social media may seem a little unusual, it’s clear that success is something that continues to follow him around and his sage advice is just as relevant – even without social media.