Ok I feel the need to comment on this video, in which Kevin Ryan says he doesn’t believe in business plans. First, Kudo’s to Kevin. He’s built some incredible businesses, including Doubleclick, which he sold for over $1 billion, and Gilt Group, which is crushing the new private online sample sale model, with over $100 million in revenues in its second year. I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting Kevin (over foosball, of all things) and he comes across as being super bright, intellectually curious, and very personable. And not too shabby at foosball either.
My guess is Kevin (and his team at AlleyCorp) puts more thought into the key elements of a startup opportunity than he lets on. But my issue is not with Kevin, actually. It’s with how some people seem to be reacting to his comments.
Kevin believes in launching companies with his own funds for the first 6 months or so, to get a sense for whether they will succeed. That’s bootstrapping, essentially, which I rave about ad nauseum. But Kevin has something most bootstrappers don’t – a big pile of money. If you share Kevin’s advantage, you can probably afford to use his ready-fire-aim approach. If not, be sure to think through the basics. Don’t spend months running doing research and analysis up the wazoo, but at the same time, don’t sprint blindly down what could be the wrong path. As with many things in life, seek a balanced approach.