Sachin Agarwal is the founder and CEO of Posterous. After graduating from Stanford University in 2002 with a degree in Computer Science, Sachin decided to work for Apple although he said he almost choose the job at Amazon but being an Apple fanboy, he decided to join the team at Apple.
During his time at Apple he worked on Final Cut Pro for 6 years but after feeling a “burning need” to build a better way to share photos and content on the web, he founded Posterous in 2008.
This is my Interview with Sachin.
Doing a bit of research I realised you're originally from the UK, when did you move over to the US and why did you move?
I was born in the U.K. but moved to Southern California when I was 3. One funny UK story is that there is a restaurant in Newcastle, England named after me. My mom and dad met and got married in London, England. They opened a restaurant named after me in Newcastle, soon after I was born. The restaurant still exists today, but I haven’t been there in over 25 years.”
What's your take on UK entrepreneurs struggling to get investment on their startup compared to opportunities for entrepreneurs in the US especially Silicon Valley?
I left the UK when I was 3 so I don’t have much insight into the UK funding environment. That said, I can’t think of a better place for an entrepreneur than Silicon Valley.
Anyways, Let's dive into it. How did the posterous idea begin, What is the story behind it? The transition from just an idea to a company?
After graduating from Stanford, I worked for Apple for six years as an engineer for Final Cut Pro.
The idea for Posterous came down to filling a burning need. I was living in New York and keeping in touch with all of my friends in San Francisco. I was always blogging, taking photos and posting photos — it was simply too hard. I wanted to build a better system.
So I started coding at night and on weekends. Pretty soon, I had something to show and was lucky enough to get accepted by Y Combinator.
What difference do you think Posterous brings into the blogging world?
Posterous’s disruptive idea was simplicity — that you could create and update your blog via email when competing services were making blogging more complicated. Email was the perfect platform to use since all mobile devices have email, and you can send photos and other attachments.
We’ve extended beyond blogging but continue to focus on the value of simplicity and how it can solve consumer problems.
What is the one thing you like the least about the internet and why and how do you think it can be solved?
The Internet as an application platform stinks, and I think this is even more apparent now as we see incredible iPad apps being released. Why are iPad apps, in their initial versions, so much better than websites that have existed for years? The Internet is great as a generic platform for consuming flat, static content, but isn't good for rich media
When are you guys planning in launching/rolling new features? What are your developers working on these days?
We just launched Posterous Spaces, which was a massive effort and, so far, a huge success. It’s clear that people are looking for an easier way to share privately. Posterous Spaces give you the control to share as widely as you want or limit to a select few.
As for the future, many aspects of the online sharing process are still broken, which creates opportunities for Posterous Spaces to continue to innovate.
I know Posterous is currently a free platform, Is there any plan to introduce premium services?
Yes – we’re a free platform. I've never believed in advertising based businesses. If I find value in a product or service, I'll pay for it. I buy my music. I pay for Netflix. I don't like it when advertising ruins my experience when using a product. And that's why there's no advertising on Posterous. We want you to enjoy the content. When you're viewing your friends’ photos or your family home videos, you don't want to see ads alongside those. And I believe if we create a lot of value for our users, there will be other ways to generate revenue.
Is the business profitable?
Not yet – fortunately, we’re a lean team so the expenses are pretty low
I know you're an investor in Backtype, Is this something you're looking to go into a bit further in the coming years?
Right now, I couldn’t be happier running Posterous, but I hope so!
List the three most valuable lessons you've learned as an entrepreneur?
Wow – it’s tough to narrow down to three
1) Your company should be run by engineers, not managers. Everyone needs to be passionate about the product, and the best way to get people passionate is to give them ownership.
2) Give employees the freedom to own and improve their products. It’s important to have goals, but make them long-term and then set people free.
3) Don’t play the feature game with your completion. Your team shouldn’t be focused on what the competition is doing – they should be driven to innovate and come up with products that challenge the status quo.
What's the No. 1 mistake you see a lot of entrepreneurs making and you wished they didn't make?
Starting a company is one of the hardest things you can do in life. You will be challenged every day, and you will have to sacrifice a lot if you want to be successful. So my advice is that you shouldn’t rush into starting one. Don’t start a company just for the sake of starting a company. Wait until you have an idea that you believe in so much that it keeps you up at night.
Until you have that idea, get more experience. It’s really valuable to work for an established, successful company before starting your own company. I learned a ton at Apple about how to design, develop and ship products — this experience still helps me every day at Posterous.
I’m a big believer in education and experience. The longer you wait before starting a company, the greater your chances are for success.
What are the most crucial things that you've done to grow your business?
The best marketing tool you have is your product, so if I had to pick one thing to fuel growth, it would be to build a great product.