Ben Silbermann is the guy behind Pinterest, the CEO and Co-founder. He spent over a year building failed ideas, with some successes like this one.
The fact that he doesn’t fit into either the VC business or web engineer mold really inspires me.
“A Yale grad with no engineering background, Silbermann worked for Google before launching Pinterest. Real-time text feeds were the rage at the time, and some observers felt that an image-based pinboard was doomed to fail. Nine months later, the site still had less than 10,000 users.”
He personally wrote to the first 5,000 users and asked them “How can we make this better” then gave the site’s users his cell phone number and met some of them for coffee.
As recently as last summer, Silbermann and a few programmers were running Pinterest from a small apartment.
He didn’t fall into the trip about overthinking market/product fit:
“You don’t know what minimum is and you don’t know what viable is. The average consumer is incredibly hard to impress. They have beautiful design in their phones and they have Facebook as the pinnacle of social design. You have to show them you’re worth their time.”
He and his team ended up producing almost a dozen fully-coded versions before settling on the one that is live today.