“The next trillion dollars of start-up market cap is going to be created by companies that are made, you know, over these next two years — from six months ago to a year-and-a-half in the future,” Libin said.
Start-up funding is in a slowdown, said the 44-year-old Libin, who led the productivity app until he joined venture capital firm General Catalyst Partners, where he is a managing director.
The slowdown in venture capital funding, surprisingly, is what makes it an ideal time to start a company, he said.
“This is literally the best time in the history of the universe to start something,” Libin said. “Because when things are going well when you’re like halfway through the hype cycle, a lot of what’s made is the ‘me-too’ companies.”
Game changers like Amazon, Yahoo and Google were created during or right after periods of market slowdown, he noted.
“I think real failure is just wasting the time and the opportunity that you have.” -Phil Libin, Evernote co-founder and managing director at General Catalyst Partners
Libin, a self-described nerd, started down the entrepreneurial path by first making an e-commerce platform for large retailers and later security software for banks and governments.
But when it came down to creating the next product, Libin realized he wanted to create a product he himself would use.
“Frankly we were just tired of always thinking about what the market wants, what customers want,” the Boston University graduate said.
While he dabbled with the idea of creating a video game, Libin realized there was more opportunity in creating a product that helped people work better. So he created Evernote, which now has more than 150 million users.
His advice to aspiring entrepreneurs? Pursue your idea.
“I think that the useful way to make decisions is to not compare the positives with the negatives of something because when you do that … the negative portion of your brain takes over and you really wind up comparing the negative to the negatives,” Libin said. “You wind up making the safest choice, the most conservative choice, the least bad choice.”
The biggest mistake entrepreneurs can make is not going for their dreams, he said.
“Not trying — that’s the only real failure,” Libin said. “Because I think trying, working really hard doing something earnest and then not having financial success — that’s not failure if you do it right. You actually learn a lot. You become even more marketable. You can do many more things in the future.”