Close

Kevin Rose — a Baroque aria

Article illustration

Kevin Rose is the founder and chief architect of Digg. He oversees all aspects of the management and development of the Web site. Under his leadership, Digg has grown to more than 30 million unique visitors per month and has been included in TIME Magazine’s “50 Best Websites” list every year since 2006.

Well recovered from an evening being surrounded by a legion of fan-boys at iconic Wellington bar Might Mighty last night, Rose was looking dapper this afternoon and ready to wow his audience who were also ready ... to hang off his every word.

Ten tips for entrepreneurs

  1. Go build it! People always come and say "Can I tell you about this idea I have?". Rose says you don't need anyone's approval and if you believe in something, work nights and weekends, it won't feel like work. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Michael Dell, Larry Ellison, Mark Zuckerberg were all college dropouts - be prepared to give something up to follow your dream.
  2. Build and release. List out the features for the next six months, sort them by importance and go build three to five of them. Stop thinking you understand your users - learn from what they're actually doing on your site not what you think they'll do. Build, release, iterate and repeat. If a feature doesn't work - kill it.
  3. Hire your boss. With senior positions, only hire people you'd personally work for and make sure they can help you build your vision. With junior positions, hire hustlers ho can run circles around you. Demand excellence - look for the top 1% of people
  4. Raising money. Beg, borrow and steal for as long as possible - the longer you can go without raising money, the better your stake and valuation will be when you do. Don't just take the cash, can the funders add value to the business. Utilise super-angels who invest around 50-200k and take no board seats.
  5. Go cheap. Share servers in order to test the waters with your product. Use cloud computing - it's cheap and fault tolerant. Don't have an office, Digg spent their first eight months without an office. Share cell phone plans, apartments and utilise part time players.
  6. Connect with your community. Start a podcast and don't worry if not everyone listens. Throw a launch party and then yearly or quarterly events, invite the press and influencers personally. Engage with the community - be an active participant.
  7. Hack the press. Create an invite only system. Talk to the junior bloggers. Attend parties for events you can't afford - network with influencers and bring a demo.
  8. Advisors. Question what technical problems you're going to have and find advisors who can help in multiple problem areas. Give them stock compensation but not a board seat and they can help during fund raising.
  9. Leverage your user base to spread the word. Make your users your advocates.
  10. Analyze your traffic. Install Google analytics, find out your user's entrance sources and paths through your si