By Ciro De Siena
One of my favourite photographs ever has to be of the young guy who started Facebook talking to a tall, stuffy-suited man from Yahoo, another internet giant.
While the tall stuffy-suited man looks as proper as the first day mommy dressed him for school, the young Zuckersuckerbergen (or whatever his name is) looks terribly comfy in his sandals, torn jeans, loose fitting T-shirt and jacket.
The photograph was taken at some conference where internet moguls were invited to mix and inevitably buy each other’s websites. It is from this world that the most incredible stories have populated popular culture.
Three youngsters sell Youtube for $1.65bn. Zuckersuckerbergen is offered a billion dollars for Facebook and turns it down. Murdoch buys Myspace for close to a billion. And so on and so forth, you get the idea.
This has a nasty effect on people, especially people like you and me. It gives us the illusion that we can skip lectures, loaf around in sandals all day and start a website. And before we know it, we’ll be billionaires. And then we can do less than we did before, get invited to tea with Mark Shuttleworth and dinner with Charlize Theron, the jewel of Benoni.
Yeah effing right we will. And I should know. I started a website about a year ago, and take a guess at how much money I’ve made. Nothing. Zip. Bugger all, and all, as they say at the coast.
But, and this is a monstrously important ‘but’, starting my little motoring website has been the most important thing I’ve ever done. A couple of years back I desperately wanted to get into motoring journalism, you know, writing about cars. I tried to secure internships at all the established motoring media, to no avail.
So I went solo. In the last year we’ve gained the respect of the motoring industry and most importantly our competitors, with one rival editor telling me that he wished his site looked like mine. That was a good day.
Obviously I don’t expect old man Murdoch to knock on my door and offer me a gazillion dollars for my website, but that same editor who envies my website did offer me a job. He said I could get close to five figures, especially if I closed down my current site.
I turned it down. After all I was in second year at the time, but regardless I have a penchant for being independent, and my venture affords me that.
I realised something quite important though. I had written my own CV. No qualification in the world could give me what I’d given myself: experience.
Who am I to wax on about this, but, I think the key thing is to chase the dream, start the project and just keep ploughing away at it.
Don’t fool yourself that your start-up is going to make you instant millions. Statistically you’re more likely to be eaten by a shark while being struck by lightning. There is no cup-a-soup business, no matter what Zuckersuckerbergen might tell you.
But there is a lot to be said for good, honest, hard working individuals who have a goal and who work towards it everyday.
And they’ll all tell you the same thing. The pay-off is not really a big cheque at the end, but the little highlights along the way.