Nothing new, but worth repeating/collating:
- Speed is everything, so if you have a unique idea, realize it before others do; others will, rest assured
- If others do, and you didn’t, don’t get bitter (“they stole my idea” bla bla bla), just do something else; if you didn’t do anything, you didn’t really lose anything either (no one owns unrealized ideas, unless they are patented), and can’t take credit
- Once you’ve made the decision to move ahead, focus on that idea instead of trying to realize all your ideas at once
- Start as simple, straightforward, easy-to-explain/use, yet as stable as possible; you don’t want to spend time explaining things or fixing bugs when thousands of users have signed up; that time should go to new features, partnerships, strategy etc
- The use of the service should be completely free for users
- Let the users provide all content, while you provide the service; focus on evolving the service
- Use ads as revenue generator; you may skip that too initially (like Twitter did), but you run a company, not a charity
- Require registration; generates a user/member count that investors love, and possibly also more loyalty; registration is also needed for showing user-specific content, like their profile etc
- Use popular social network services for registration; today mainly Facebook and Twitter
- Use those services for viral marketing by giving your service the right to post updates/tweets on behalf of the users
- A public inter-service API that is used by your own clients, but even more so aimed for third-party clients; see how that has created value for e.g. Twitter and how people think Twitter is more than it really is: What Twitter lacks- multimedia – Abiro (and multimedia is just one tiny thing that others have added to the Twitter experience)
- Make it very easy for members to recommend the service and share service content
- Make use of other services with APIs as much as possible, e.g. for storing media etc. It’s inexpensive.
- Possibly add premium services when you have many users
- Possibly make and promote your own ad engine if the service grows really popular; that way you get more profit for the same amount of clicks/impressions, but it also costs more in man-power
Some funding seems necessary to achieve the above (a couple of $M), unless you sit on such money already.
Even if the founding team works for free and possibly develops all that’s required on their own, there’s still costs for bandwidth, servers and off-the-shelf software.
Also, working for free loses its luster pretty quickly. Especially if things don’t take off as quickly as you had imagined. Working several hours per day for free ties together business and private life in a pretty bad way.
If you are a student with a lot of spare time and little need for money, just go ahead (like Mark Zuckerberg & Co did).