Yesterday Kevin Rose announced he was stepping down from his role at Google Ventures to work full time on his new startup North Technologies. The company was founded in September of last year, but just recently closed a $5 million round.
North is similar to Rose’s last startup Milk. The strategy is to rapidly build a bunch of different apps and look for something to get traction.
The logic of the model is similar angel investing. Make lots of small & diversified bets then double down on the companies which start to figure things out.
North is one company though, and when you look at why startups fail one of the most common reasons cited is a lack of focus. The phrase often used is “we pivoted too early”. Rose acknowledges this,
“The last thing I want to do is splinter myself too thin to where I can’t focus on any one thing,” he said. “Really what we need is time, and as many shots on goal as possible.”
This quote reminded me of an interview Kevin Rose did with Ev Williams on Foundation. In it Ev talks about how he gets frustrated when a startup is working on a big idea and when things get challenging they pivot to something easier. In the conversation he says:
“Any big idea is going to take a while to get there. There are going to be a dark periods. You have to be willing to be in some murky territory while going in that direction”
So which is it? Do you take a rapid fire approach to finding an opportunity and then go deep? Or do you identify an existing problem with lots of messy unknowns and start hacking away at the layers?
Both approaches have their merits. I think a lot depends on the motivations of the founders. It’s a wide spectrum, just don’t get stuck somewhere in the middle.