entrepreneurship, Mobile, Software, startup

Death to the Cult of Stealth Startups!

Let there be light!

You might already know of my bootstrapped startup Gauss – The People Magnet. What some of you might not know is that I teach entrepreneurial students at universities, young hopeful startups at NEXT, keynoting events and F500* corporates that as a startup entrepreneur you need to:

  • Talk to everybody about everything all of the time
  • Expose yourself and your ideas to as many people (your potential users and customers) as soon as possible
  • Acknowledge and understand that no smart person or company will ever copy you before you have a validated and proven business model

I have come to realize that it is about embarrassingly high time that I start practice what I preach. It’s about time to start eating my own dog food. I’m spontaneously throwing everything out there to see what happens when you shine as much light from as many sources as possible on your ideas and assumptions instead of having them worshipped inside the cult of the stealth startup. I don’t expect much and I have nothing to lose but my vanity, so here we go.

I hereby declare death to the cult of stealth startups and pledge and acknowledge that I will:

  1. Publish and solicit feedback as broadly as possible on any and all prototypes before writing a single line of code (e.g. as features described in text, click-dummies or paper wireframes)
  2. Be ready to face any and all critique in public in any form or way, the more and more brutally honest the better
  3. Risk the embarrassment of being ridiculed and failing spectacularly in public
  4. Risk having my ideas stolen by competitors
  5. Only exercise the option to stop sharing everything in public, if and only if, I have a validated product-market fit or when I have a validated business model

As of now, I’m going to publish all prototypes instead of following the cult of the stealth startup. I LOVE your feedback going forward and you can use this form (so you can remain anonymous) or feel free to leave comments on this post in public. Be brutally honest. I’m ready to take it! :)

Here’s a scrappy video walk-through (and in no way am I apologizing for the poor quality, because I also preach it is better to have something instead of nothing!):

And here are two click dummies for you to test on your iPhone for yourself (they should sort of work on Android too, though).

The main click-dummy with core concepts. (Try this first for basic concepts and tap Robert Scoble to test features as his profile is the only interactive one)

This next click dummy will show you what happens when you get a notification from Gauss. (BTW, profiles are inactive, not tap-able in this version)

Let me know what you think. Is this a great idea or worst ever? Should we all remain loyal followers of the dark cult of the stealth startup or is it about time to let the public sunshine in? I shared this post on HN so feel free to continue the discussion there too.


*Caveat: Obviously, if you’re inside a F500 corporation, sharing within your enterprise is assumed, not necessarily with the public. That would obviously open up a can of whoop-ass from your legal department. Enterprise is funny that way.