What are some common pitfalls of building a startup?

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Managing Director in Finance (non-banking), 1,001 - 5,000 employees
I have not founded startups, but I've been at startups. The learning I got from those experiences is that whatever problems were solved 10 years ago are probably still problems; they've just morphed a bit, which creates another opportunity. I've seen serial entrepreneurs who really understand how to exploit market opportunities in a repeatable fashion. You need to have that kind of vision to be able to do that.
CEO in Manufacturing, 11 - 50 employees
I've been on both sides. I worked at Sun Microsystems for 12 years before I went to a startup called Allegro Networks. I was an engineer and the pace was 100 miles an hour but I loved every second of it because it was fun to try breaking into a market. We were building hardware for the carrier space, but we had to rewrite all of the protocols from scratch. The idea came from a problem they saw in the market: there was Cisco, Juniper and other very specific solutions, but nothing that could be carved up like virtualization. Our first sale was to UUNet, which owned 80% of the internet traffic. I took a picture of the company with our beta hardware, sent it over there and, two weeks later, WorldCom was on the frontpage of the Wall Street Journal under a headline that said “massive fraud” — everything just crashed and burned.

A big lesson learned from that was not to put all your eggs in one basket. No one expected that to happen and they couldn't pivot fast enough. They couldn't go to level three, etc., because the hardware was designed in a specific way.
Managing Director in Software, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
In my experience, the biggest problem was trying to pinpoint what we wanted to become right away. Because it was such a new market, our idea could have gone into many different channels. We could sell directly to companies like Intel and Texas Instruments, or we could sell into the machine manufacturing devices that managed supply chain and manufacturing systems. So the question was: what was our beachhead, and how could we then grow into all these other areas from there? And I think we would've done well with advisors bringing in their talent at that point. It was timing that created disappointment for us and the initiatives we were doing. 

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CTO in Software, 201 - 500 employees
Without a doubt - Technical Debt! It's a ball and chain that creates an ever increasing drag on any organization, stifles innovation, and prevents transformation.
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