Today at LUISS ENLABS we met Vint Cerf, one of the fathers of the Internet, co-inventor of the TCP/IP protocol, now vice president and chief Internet evangelist at Google. During his quick speech, he gave some pieces of advises to our startups.

First, don’t be afraid to fail. “When Tony Blair, former prime minister of UK, came to visit us he asked how to import the Silicon Valley model to London – remembered Cerf – nobody replied. So I suggested a round table. And finally a hand was raised. It was Steve Jobs that said: ‹‹There is a thing that we have all in common: the failure of at least one of our business››”.

 

Today at LUISS ENLABS we met Vint Cerf, one of the fathers of the Internet, co-inventor of the TCP/IP protocol, now vice president and chief Internet evangelist at Google. During his quick speech, he gave some pieces of advises to our startups.

First, don’t be afraid to fail. “When Tony Blair, former prime minister of UK, came to visit us he asked how to import the Silicon Valley model to London – remembered Cerf – nobody replied. So I suggested a round table. And finally a hand was raised. It was Steve Jobs that said: ‹‹There is a thing that we have all in common: the failure of at least one of our business››”.

Business environment is crucial to the success of startups. In the United States, failure is seen as a good thing sometimes. It means you took the risk.

At Google, the top management has the freedom to fail.” This is the way to foster innovative and big thinking. At Google they promote a moon-shot mentality. Europeans should embrace the same: “Keep clear in your mind that to fail is not the end of the world”.

At Google they have an effective procedure to manage failures. When someone fails, it has to write a “post mortem report” where he analyzes what happened, why the bug emerged, how he fixed it. It is important to track everything in order to improve your work in the future.

I’m one of the oldest members of Google’s board. It happens sometimes that one young member want start a new project. Even though I know we tried to do a similar project 25 years ago and it failed, it may have a chance now, since variables change over the time. Something that didn’t work in the past can work perfectly now – so he suggested – if you are planning to scale, you should always write down the details of your projects: what had gone wrong, how you fixed it, why you decided to stop the project and what were the variables involved.”

One more advice to startups and VC: always keep in mind the difference between capital and revenues. It’s not enough to create a great product with the money gave by venture capitals. You should also know how to sell it and make money.