July 25, 2014
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on Hunter Walk’s blog, reposted with permission.
I first “met” entrepreneur Marc Barros via his blog One Entrepreneur’s Perspective, which contained a solid string of posts analyzing why GoPro succeeded while his action camera startup Contour struggled. As we got to know each other IRL, I was excited to hear about his next project, the phone camera lens Moment. Marc agreed to answer a few questions for me.
Hunter Walk: Your blog “One Entrepreneur’s Perspective” has some really great lessons learned from building Contour. What led you to start documenting the experience and sharing publicly?
Marc Barros: Writing started as therapy. After being fired from Contour, I was physically exhausted and emotionally destroyed. I had nothing to do everyday, except to think about what happened. So I just started writing, most of which will never see the light of day.
I found writing was a way to understand the emotions I felt while providing them a place to go. Having started Contour as a college kid, I basically spent my 20s discovering myself while trying to run a company. In that time I started a company, went through the 2008 economic collapse, lost my mom, struggled to fund the company, and in the end got fired. The result was that I buried everything, and it wasn’t until I stared writing that I discovered just how far it went.
Most importantly, writing helped me to reflect on what happened. It gave me time to really think about the lessons I learned, what I felt at the time, and how I would have done things differently. It’s a form of reflection I never could have done while in the heat of the battle. It required getting my heart broken to really understand the underlying experiences.
At some point, I decided it was worth sharing my experiences. I figured if I could help at least one other entrepreneur, it was worth the time. The purpose of my blog is…
- A place I can share my perspective about life as an entrepreneur
- Write about topics entrepreneurs are too afraid to bring up
- Provide inspiration for other entrepreneurs
Hunter Walk: I’ve found on my own blog that I can’t always predict which posts will “go viral.” Have you been surprised by the reception to any of your posts? What seems to be of most interest to your readers?
Marc Barros: Totally. The length of the post or the time I spent on it both appear to be irrelevant to what takes off.
One thread I am finding to be consistent is emotion. The more honest the posts are about personal topics, the more they resonate. Usually the posts I am most nervous to post are the most emotional. And in the end, they appear to resonate the most because I receive emails saying, “I swear you wrote that just for me.”
That is a very humbling feeling.
Hunter Walk: Some have opined that no great CEO has time to blog regularly. Do you agree? As you spin up your new company, how do you expect your writing to evolve?
Marc Barros: I think it’s less about blogging and willing to be open and reflective on what you are doing. I have found that writing is making me a better entrepreneur. Similar to teaching, it makes you step back and really think about what you’re feeling, why you’re feeling it, and how you will manage it.
Most CEOs don’t struggle with the tactical nature of the business. Instead, they deny the weight of the emotional burden. It’s a very real struggle and there is no place for it to go. Not everyone would agree, but I believe that vulnerability makes you a better leader.
In starting Moment, my frequency has definitely slowed, but I try to spend the first hour or two of my day writing. Whether it’s posts we share on Moment about building the company or posts I share on my own blog, I find it keeps me connected to what’s going on.
Post Contour, I had nine years of experiences just ready to burst out. Now my challenge is to write about things I’m feeling today. Worry, Confidence, and the Value of a Founder’s Time are examples of topics I have been thinking about recently.
Hunter Walk: You’re up in Seattle – for folks who don’t live there, describe the tech scene, especially from an entrepreneurship standpoint.
Marc Barros: The Seattle scene is different from the Valley or NYC. The speed and level of competition in the Valley is significantly higher, which you can feel from the minute you get off the plane. It feels like you are walking into the professional leagues where there is a rich history of entrepreneurial success. The depth is undeniable, but so is the expectation to perform at an unsustainable rate. I hear people struggle with a culture that is about being hot or not.
Seattle, on the other hand, has more depth and is a lot more affordable. It moves at a slower rate and although it’s still building its history of entrepreneurial success, you get a sense that people really care about one another. The people moving to Seattle to start companies refer to an improved sense of purpose. You have mountains, water, and technology all within a few minutes of one another. Plus amazing coffee and beer! Although Seattle has had a few mega wins (Amazon and Microsoft), the lion’s share of success is just starting to arrive (Zulily, Concur, Moz, Tableau, Zillow, Redfin).
Guest author Hunter Walk is a partner @Homebrew, a seed-stage venture fund serving founders who enable individuals and small businesses to think big. Brewed in SF, enjoyed nationwide. Find them at Homebrew.co.
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