Chris Tolles, CEO of the news aggregation site Topix, says proper timing is critical to the success of any startup.
Tolles should know, having been a co-founder of NewHoo, which created the Community Directory Project and was acquired by Netscape in 1998, and of Spoke, the social networking site for businesses.
"We were a little early," Tolles says of Spoke, which was founded in 2002, before social networking sites had caught on. He left the company to join Topix in March of 2004 and was named CEO in June, 2007. Spoke now has a database of 30 million contacts at 650,000 companies.
If your timing is off and there's no market yet for what you're offering, "be honest with yourself. Don't be afraid to re-invent yourself (meaning your company)," he says.
Tolles, who says he was "dragged out of Sun Microsystems" by his NewHoo co-founders, adds that finding good people whom you respect and have a shared vision with is another key factor for success.
"If there's confusion about the vision, or people working at cross-purposes, that's something to think about," Tolles warns.
To see him discussing the Topix business model, you can watch this Vator.tv interview.
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