Inner Circle Labs’ Audrey Craipain ventured out to Palo Alto last night to get an up close & personal seat to hear and see Pinterest co-founder, Ben Silbermann, speak at a small tech startup gathering. Startup Grind graciously hosted the fireside chat with fellow startup community supporters like Booster Bing at AOL’s West Coast HQ. If you’ve been on Twitter lately, are part of the tech community or a marketer, then you’ve surely heard of Pinterest. What appears to have become an overnight sensation, actually didn’t happen overnight. During the hour-long chat, Ben shared how the idea for Pinterest came about along with a few insightful tips for other startups and entrepreneurs. Here are a few that resonated with me:

If you want to be a part of the action, you need to be where the action is

  • Ben left his consultant position in D.C. for a job at Google in California; shortly thereafter, he left Google to work on his own startup.

Listen to your significant other – they may not get what you’re doing, but they get you

  • Ben’s wife gave him the nudge he needed to stop talking about the idea of a startup and to just do it. Turns out, she also came up with the name for Pinterest!

The definition of “early adopters” is changing – we’re not talking about the Valley folks anymore

  • Case in point, when Pinterest launched, their early fans were in the Midwest & Utah

Focus on a key feature of your product and ITERATE!

  • The Pinterest team painstakingly iterated 40 – 50 versions of the infamous grid layout of the site … and keeps working at refining it.

Last but not least, and surely a fact that continues to amaze me is … that Pinterest did not use PR or media to get the word out

  • Ben stated matter-of-factly: “we don’t do press, we still don’t.”

PR is not for every company, perhaps … but I wonder if Pinterest will change their mind as they continue to grow and face the inevitable challenges as a startup-darling under the microscope. What do you think?

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