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Swombat.com: a new beginning

Every once in a while, I meet a startup founder who tells me that he or she spent time reading through the Founder's Library and got a lot of value out of it. It helped them get up to speed with many essential startup concepts, it gave them ideas, it helped them avoid mistakes, and so on.

This makes me feel great, obviously - every one of my blogging efforts has been to help people, and swombat.com was explicitly designed to help early founders to avoid the obvious mistakes that we all tend to make in the early days. I'm happy that it's done that for at least some people.

I am not, however, happy that I have frequently neglected the site.

I posted the first post on swombat.com on November 30th, 2010, a respectable 1283 days ago. Over this time, swombat.com has grown into a useful resource for new startup founders, but it has definitely had some extended dead periods. If it had had sustained attention for that period, it could be an order of magnitude more useful.

Time and success

Unfortunately, I have come to realise that it is entirely impossible for me to consistently spend time to update swombat.com, for months or years on end. No matter how many times I have deluded myself into thinking that, reality has ultimately won again: I just don't have the time, energy, attention to keep up the promise of this site all by myself.

I have good reasons for that: GrantTree is a successful, growing business. This is really awesome - it's fun, rewarding, interesting, challenging, etc. It's also a ginormous time-sink, and something that ultimately will continue to drain my time and energy on such a scale that I simply don't have the time to do this site justice.

Swombat.com is useful, but it's ultimately always been more of a hobby. As such, whenever there's been a time squeeze (and these days I feel like I'm always in a time squeeze), GrantTree wins and swombat.com loses.

To make this even worse, my interests in terms of writing topic have shifted somewhat (towards more advanced matters of culture-building, for example), and I don't read Hacker News nearly as much as I used to, so this all compounds to make swombat.com's future gloomy to say the least.

But this site is valuable and helpful to people, so I don't want to just let it languish, unupdated, uncared for, unloved, forgotten until the millennia pass and it is unearthed by archaeologists and... erm, I digress.

In short, I want swombat.com to continue - and perhaps even to do much better than it has under my spotty stewardship.

A plan for the future

There are two essential things that make swombat.com, and the Founder's Library, useful:

  1. A good selection of quality articles that provide useful, actionable insight, tools and techniques
  2. The additional insight of having an experienced startup founder comment on these articles to provide an additional perspective

I don't have the time to do both, but I do know people who can help. I've called on my good friends at FounderCentric, Rob Fitzpatrick, Salim Virani, Devin Hunt and Jordan Schlipf, to help with this noble task, and they've answered the call.

Each of them is an experienced serial entrepreneur, they're just as opinionated as I am about bad startup advice, and they in fact have even more insight than me to add, since they spend most of their time teaching and mentoring startups all over Europe, so they've had the chance to gather even more first-hand data about what advice is useful and what advice is harmful.

In short, I am opening up swombat.com to more contributors, and seeing if there's some merit in the idea of swombat.com being more than just my own platform.

Next steps

This isn't going to be an instant transition, of course!

The first step has been to, quite simply, build multi-user support into swombat.com, and rejig the site to support that better. That, I think (along with some housekeeping like getting Resque to actually, erm, work) is now done.

The second step is obviously to get the process of us posting collaboratively working. Please bear with me while I figure this out.

Eventually, this new beginning for swombat.com may open new opportunities that aren't visible yet.

As ever, if you have feedback, suggestions, or other comments, please feel free to email or tweet me - or Rob, Sal, Devin or Jordan!

More from the library:
Four pricing principles
Build relationships, don't send PR releases
Grow first and make money later?