McGuiness - "Experience is overrated. Skills are underrated." - Quote of the thread.
Having worked intimately with 23 startups, I find the doctrinaire answers here quite small minded. I also want to point out that one learns some very good things working for a large scale company that are quite useful. The din and hum of a large corporation demand that one prioritize and focus on what's important if you want to be effective. You also have resources to do interesting projects where you might learn things which apply universally. You may also get to see a wide variety of projects and challenges that a startup will never see, all rounding one out as a business person.nOf course, it goes without saying that many people cannot make the transition, but to categorically claim that such a person couldn't be a great contributor to a startup? Nonsense - it happens every day.
@ Peter Johnston - Gosh, I guess I'll go tell that founder I'm working with who had his entire app - from front to back end - developed by an outsourced app dev shop that he did the impossible. But gosh, he already has 6 Fortune 500 pilots - paid pilots at good revenue - and over 10,000 users. He's only now looking for a CTO..
I normally enjoy your commentary but I find your thinking here to be very hard to relate to. One thing you said really sticks out. You claim that the only innovation opportunities that exist are due to technical innovation, and this argues for a technically led company. Really? Two problems. First you assume only technical people can see those business opportunities, when in fact one does not have to be a developer to apply technology in innovative ways. Second, you assume that technical people can actually capitalize on those opportunities - having only a technical background. Both simply are not true - the world proves this every day. In fact, I find that many technically focused people have terrible business and strategic sense - and why wouln't they? Others have worried how to pay the bills and build a business while they coded.
I think this reflects the 'Y-Combinator' effect, they only fund startups with young technical founders, lol. I guess if wearing skinny jeans and having cool stickers on your laptop is now an indicator of skill, well good luck with that. I'll stick with good strategy, a good market opportunity and good leadership. Technical skills are widely available and are not the end all, be all of building a successful technology based startup.