Starting from zero... / by Nate Westheimer

A college buddy recently reached out to me, sounding a lot like I did a little more than one year ago: set on getting into the web start-up space with little more than a great idea and a deeply burning desire to do whatever it takes to be successful. But where to start? With all this energy and interest, how should he channel it to get off the ground and begin a more formal "netrepreneurial" education? The following is the email I sent his way -- reflective of how I started. Any additional insight would be great:

----

First thing I recommend you doing is to give yourself course work by reading "the right blogs" and the accumulate your reading list from there (you'll start clicking around and finding other good sources of insider info and analysis).

For web trends and VC insight, start with Fred Wilson, VC at NYC-based Union Square Ventures: http://avc.blogs.com/

Follow what's happening with various NYC tech entrepreneurs and companies at the nextNY Blog: http://blog.nextny.org/

And if you want a hardcore business blog to follow, PaidContent is the best of class read by all C-level execs: http://paidcontent.org/

If you're not familiar with RSS and what a "reader" is, go read up on it. Then use it to stay current on all these blogs and the many more you will stumble upon. Google Reader is free and very easy to use.

Secondly, there are a two groups in NYC you should tune into. 1. is the monthly NY Tech Meetup. 5 companies demo once a month to a crowd of 400 people. It's a good time and prime for networking: http://newtech.meetup.com/1/

2. is the nextNY Google Group. It's a mailing list of 800 or so tech entrepreneurs in NYC. Sign up for it in "digest" form so you dont get a million emails a day, and then read through it and go to events. It's the best way of meeting folks and learning shit. I'd be nowhere without being able to shoot an email out looking for recommendations, etc. Most of my "tech" buddies I met through this group. http://groups.google.com/group/nextNYdigital

Lastly, I recommend you start blogging on your own. This is your real curriculum vitae -- the ongoing account of your insight and scope. To get started the first question you should ask yourself is whether your host it or use a blogging platform (i.e. I have mine at innonate.com, not innonate.blogspot.com). There are plusses and minus of both; using a service like blogger will allow you to get up and running in no time, and to customize easily, but for not-engineers like ourselves, there's a certain and important education in buying a domain, learning to choose between and install an open source platform (Wordpress? Drupal? Typo?), go through the documentation and customization, etc, etc.

Once you have your blog, send me your URL and I'll be the first to read it. You'll get more readers when you feel compelled to comment on others' blogs and leave behind a URL (but don't do this just for traffic, as it's very obvious). You'll get even more readers when people find your blog through other bloggers linking to it, or through Google search results, or because it's URL is in your email footer and on your Facebook profile.

That should be a good start and sorry if some of it you're already well past. I just don't know exactly where you are in this journey.