Venture Voice – interviews with entrepreneurs

Entertaining Entrepreneurship

VV Show #17 – Jason Fried of 37signals

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The business world seems to keep getting more complicated, but Jason Fried is all about keeping things simple. When founding 37signals, Jason and his two partners staked their careers on simplicity. They wrote a manifesto to convince others of their philosophy of keeping design on the Web simple. Their project management software, Basecamp, has become a hit for its ease of use. Their blog is intently followed by thousands of (mostly) admiring readers, and has led to a book. Jason tells how he’s grown his business simply, too, without taking on any venture capital or debt despite many offers. He also drops a couple hints about the next few products his company will launch.

Show notes:

1:45 Start of career

  • Graduated college in 1996 with degree in finance.
  • Started career doing freelance Web design.
  • Started 37signals with and Ernest Kim and Carlos Segura.

3:10 Start of 37signals

7:50 Building Basecamp

  • ‘It happened by accident.’

10:00 Making Basecamp into a business

12:10 Getting the word out

  • Blogs at Signals vs. Noise.
  • Blogging ‘offers a great opportunity to communicate with likeminded people, and also people who hate us — that seems to be growing, which is good I think. Shows that you’re saying something.’

15:30 Philosophy and vision

  • ‘Your customers will give you thousands of requests, and if you listen to each one of those, you’re dead.’

22:00 Economics of 37signals

22:45 Launching other products

25:45 New products in development

27:00 37signals changes

  • Currently five employees.
  • ‘We’re really big into being small.’
  • ‘We make sure it hurts before we expand.’

28:30 Startup style

30:50 Funding

  • ‘We’re not looking for investment.’

34:15 Business development and customer service

  • Recommends the book The E-Myth.
  • ‘You need to be annoyed when [your customers] are annoyed.’

40:25 Exit plan

  • ‘We’re not building this company to sell this company.’

41:45 Ambition

44:30 Other thoughts

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