Carry water and chop wood, always

WidgetBucks CEO Matt Hulett on what it takes to run a startup

Lessons learned from entrepreneur by Bambi Francisco Roizen
February 5, 2009
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What does carrying water and chopping wood have to do with startups? A mindset that keeps one focused, according to Matt Hulett, who's had a long career building up Internet companies from AtomFilms to the corporate division of online travel pioneer Expedia.

I won't get into his bio here, you can read it on his profile page. Suffice it to say, Hulett's had ample experience at startups. He's also a bit of a turnaround manager, typically joining companies at their nadir, or early days, and ramping them up into profitable and viable businesses. His most recent "turn-around" effort has been with WidgetBucks. Hulett joined Mpire in 2006 as CEO, only to turn the comparison-shopping company's focus to vertical ad networks. WidgetBucks was thus born and Hulett is also CEO of this division.

So, what are some of the lessons Hulett's learned as an entrepreneur and his advice to entrepreneurs? Here are his three pieces of advice (partly paraphrased).

Firstly, be extremely focused on building a core product. Make sure when you drop a piece of impression or revenue into a product or service, that something comes out. Before enlightenment, carry water and chop wood, after enlightenment, carry water and chop wood. Even when you’re enlightened about your own business, keep doing the same tasks that you’re used to. Many entrepreneurs move to the next shiny object. They move onto many iniatives.

Secondly, have a Starsky to your Hutch. Know your skillset and know what your co-founders skillsets are. I’ve been in situations where there are two Starksy and two Hutches. [Steve] Wozniak and [Steve] Jobs are two guys who had two skillsets and that worked well for them.

Lastly, be passionate. It’s what everyone says, but it’s also the most important. Be Sam Walton and say “Thank God for Mondays.”


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