This is the first installment of a series geared towards walking you through the stages of transforming a cool business concept into an actual startup. If you’re an idea person curious about the entrepreneurial process, this series is for you.

I’ll draw from my experience as a self-starting, serial entrepreneur. I began my career at Microsoft launching new products from small teams: the first, an educational failure, Microsoft At Work Fax (seriously, watch the video), the second, the more successful MSNBC.com.

In 1999, I left Microsoft to start a digital gift certificate company, Giftspot, which was later acquired by GiftCertificates.com (reverse stock splits of 500:1 and 300:1 washed out any return). Beginning in 2008, I launched a Facebook application product with grants from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Last year, I experimented with a place-based community startup, Geogram, and this year, with email filtering app Simplify Email and Twitter marketing app Birdhouse. I’ve learned from all of these efforts and will aim to put these lessons to work for you.

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