Entrepreneurs

This VC says Amazon's very first home page teaches an important lesson in entrepreneurship

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David Ryder | Getty Images

Analysts on Wall Street are predicting that Amazon could become the first trillion-dollar company, but in its early days, the e-commerce giant didn't look like much.

A tweet showing Amazon's very first landing page has been making the rounds after the company marked its 22nd anniversary in July.

For one venture capital expert who works with start-ups every day, the lesson from the tweet was important: You don't have to be perfect to get started.

Michael Carney, an associate at early-stage venture capital firm Upfront Ventures, which has investments in dozens of companies, is talking about a business strategy called minimum viable product — the idea is that once founders create the simplest form of their idea that will work, they should get it out there in the public.

The first iteration of an idea or business "is never going to be perfect," Carney tells CNBC. "There is never a perfect time to launch, and eventually you have to get something out in the market and get feedback."

It's similar to Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg's famous "move fast and break things" mantra, a very popular mentality in Silicon Valley, and for good reason.

"Ideas don't come out fully formed," says Zuckerberg in a recent commencement speech at Harvard. "They only become clear as you work on them. You just have to get started. If I had to understand everything about connecting people before I began, I never would have started Facebook," he says.

LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman notes Zuckerberg's willingness to take quick action in an interview with the executive on his podcast, "Masters of Scale."

"You just have to get started." -Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook

"He has no qualms about rushing out an imperfect product,'" Hoffman says on the podcast. "If you are Steve Jobs, you can wait for your product to be perfect, but there are almost no Steve Jobs in the world."

Hoffman himself knows something about starting successful ventures. In addition to co-founding LinkedIn, Hoffman is a partner at technology-focused venture capital firm Greylock Partners, which has invested in companies such as Airbnb, Pandora and Instagram.

In a LinkedIn post about his interview with Zuckerberg, he writes, "I've long believed that if you're not embarrassed by your first product release, you've released too late."

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, has a similar motto. In her best-selling book, "Lean In," she writes, "done is better than perfect."

As for Amazon – while the website was probably pretty well done by 1995's internet standards – Carney says the simplicity of its first offering was the right move.

"If the founding team in 1995 said, 'We are going to be the everything store that sells groceries and books and cloud services,' then they never would have gotten there," Carney tells CNBC.

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