Montag, 20. April 2009

interview with christopher clay, founder of "soup"

Image representing as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase

time was running fast, when talking with christoper clay of "soup". soup is a "tumblelog, a super-easy blog that can do more than just text: post links, quotes, videos, audio, files, reviews and events.". try it out here or just have a look what is going on at soup. winning seedcamp in 2008, working in vienna, london and san francisco, there was a lot to talk about the daily life of the young austrian start.up

this is the second interview in a series with creative new, after an interesting discussion with andraz tori, founder and cto of zemanta.

christoper, tell me about the (three) most exciting things about up your company?
first it is all about the places we have been. from berlin to cologne, living for three months in london and just coming back from working for three weeks in san francisco. talking to people, pitching to them all around the world, that‘s been great.

second exiting thing is all the feedback we got. we have 20.000 active users now from all over the world. just scrolling through our feedback tumbelog is simply amazing.

third exciting thing is being your own boss. that is hard. the most important decision is to focus on what to do next. it is fun to learn from your mistakes - and we learned a lot over the last year.

what about the (three) most unfortunate things about up?
first hard thing is personal. i started the company with two co-founders - none of them is working any more with me. i would not start a start.up again, without having worked intensively with potential co-founders before. so that was very stressful to go through. however, we are three in the team again.

second is the roller-coaster live. there are really bad phases. one day everything works right and you are convinced that soon you are going really big. the next day you are depressed and think that is never going to work and facebook is going to kill us. it is stressful but exciting. therefore you need a good team which motivates each other. i would not be able to do this alone.

starting up in vienna in the hindsight is the third unfortunate thing. the decision to start here was right at the time. but the chances to get investments in the united states would be much higher. unfortunately it is hard to move to the u.s. . for example getting working visa without having founded a viable company in the us is tricky.

what are your lessons learned until now about starting.up?
number one, carefully preselect your co-founders. e.g. by working on a three month non-profit project with them before founding a company together.
number two, not found in vienna again, but in berlin, london or san francisco. because funding is much more easier there.
product wise, number three, i would focus stronger on the build in viral aspects of they should have them in place from the beginning, rather then relying on the initial users we got mainly from friends at metalab. then we would be already ten times as big as we are now.

and number four: never give up. for example seedcamp. we got rejected in the first round (when zemanta won), because the did not understand what we did. we still went to the next mini seedcamp in berlin, explained personally what we did to saul klein und reshma sohoni and they proposed us to try again. and well, we succeeded the second time.

when you hear the words "exit" and "shut down", what comes to your mind?
the good and the bad, the two outcomes. either we are in san francisco, have hundreds of thousands of users and funding or we are back in vienna, broke and start something new.
the possibility of failure is very real, statistically most fail. but we are giving our best and try to make an exit one day.
although losing would feel horrible. we can not let our users down, so even if it would not work out, we will keep it running.

final question of part 1: how do handle private life vs. work?
probably i have not learned this yet. for me, the start.up comes first. like moving to san francisco and leaving people behind is hard but i would do it. so i am rather unbalanced on this yet. i want to be sure i tried everything for it.
what i learned was to manage my own expectation. when i am too tired some times and therefore have a none productive day, i know now that´s ok. that takes pressure away from oneself.

this was the first part of the interview with christoper clay of soup. where he sees the need for new and more, read in the upcoming part two.

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