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Twitter Founder to Start-Ups: Spot the Happy Mistakes

Biz Stone, co-founder of micro-blogging tool Twitter, created quite a stir at Oxford Said's annual entrepreneurship event.

The 35-year-old (he looks younger) offered a gathering of would-be entrepreneurs the benefit of his experiences as an early blog-site entrepreneur, former Google employee and founder of Twitter.

  1. Be on the lookout for happy mistakes. When Stone and co-founder Evan Williams (right in the pic) began working together, it wasn't on Twitter, but a completely different product. Twitter was a "little thing", a sideline that became the big idea.
  2. Opportunities can be manipulated. Don't wait for them to be handed to you -- create your own. When Stone was at school, he wanted to get into sports, but he'd not been on teams growing up and felt a little daunted about joining a sport where everyone else knew the rules. So he found a 'gap' to fill, a sport not offered at the school, founding a lacrosse team and going on to become its captain.
  3. Creativity is a renewable resource. In an early design job, Stone learned that there's not one solution, but an almost endless supply of different options to be created. He encourages entrepreneurs to re-frame problems as different puzzles to solve, different options.
  4. Entrepreneurship means becoming mortal. That means being willing to fail or sacrifice one thing for another, he said, with a nice link to Wim Wenders' film, Wings of Desire.
  5. Humour and playfulness are essential. Humour's a "delivery mechanism for truth" and something Twitter's founders actively look for when hiring.
  6. You have a responsibility when you're starting a company. Consider what it means to be a global citizen and your role in the world. Twitter is described by its co-founder as an "open exchange of information that has a positive global impact"
  7. If your heart's not in it, you won't get very far. Stone and Williams's original business was Odio, which focused on podcasts. But "we weren't interested in podcasts -- we weren't emotionally attached to the project", so they asked their small team to 'go create' , and two weeks later, they had a Twitter prototype.
(Photo: Mai Le, CC2.0)
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