Well, they are not talking specifically about you, but the way these people are talking, it's wonder you are not listening to them.
One of the common traps for startups is that they stop thinking about what didn't get them into the game in the first place. That's right, they fixate on what they are good at doing, and then they lose meaning in the market.
Do this in your own business. Do it now! Rather than make incremental improvements that make your product or service better – set aside time and ask yourself what you would do if you were to start a business competing with your existing business. Don’t ask how you would change some of the things you’re doing – focus on what you would build from the ground up. Would the product or service look the same? Would you want to poach the people working for you now? (if you would not – let them go. Now!) Would you even start the same business?
And when you are done competing against yourself, reflect on the stress, lack of sleep and disorder that permeates your life as you build your startup dream. Consider the great startup roller coaster by Elad Gil, in a blog post hosted on our partner Founder Dating's site. There are things you can do outside of the daily haul of building a team and a product to make your life more meaningful. You can help others in the meantime.
Do your best to maintain key relationships. I had to cancel a pre-planned family trip with my girlfriend in order to work. She was super understanding, but the startup lifestyle can really stress relationships. Try to find ways to connect with loved ones on a regular basis as their support will help get you through tough times – and will help with decompression! Buy your girlfriend flowers or take your boyfriend to Sausalito. Find a way to connect and be with one another.
It's also important to think about the cultural implications of what you are doing, and the technology you are working with to get that mission accomplished. We are not just building gadgets or things to do while working with gadgets.
Really great startups and the technology they use -- can end up changing the way we make sense of the world, and then function in it.
Take what you heard in Manley Hopkins' poem and abstract that. Think about what the Kinect technology does that eleven companies were using at the Microsoft Accelerator for Kinect yesterday in Seattle. They are pairing human spirit, human action, with programming language and optical / light interaction.
People are using the human body to create a kind of instant programming language, in some case. Take FreakNGenius, for example. They have an application that lets you layer a two dimensional human body experience onto a one dimensional graphic experience, to create animated stories with your body.
As we develop startups, it's important to listen to what other people are saying, not because we are paranoid and we want to know who is targeting our weaknesses. No. We want to listen because the work we do in startups is the work of helping other people, and it makes sense to know where we sit on that impact graph. Where have we moved the needle? What needles still need moving?
Get out of your incubator and start cracking.