Tag: technical team

The minimalistic Start-Up – The Setup

In the following weeks, I shall write a couple of blog articles focused on how you can build a fictionary technical product on an extremely tight budget. The product will be defined as a side hustle, which idea will be to restructure, rewrite, and put into a modern shape an old project. We shall try minimizing the amount of time and money spent on the product because side hustles do not pay bills most of the time. At the same time, the approach will show how little is needed for a technical team to create a product and release it.

But what will be the idea – A simple tool that improves the way users plan their work. There are tons of such solutions on the market, and big companies have been developing something like that since the 90s of the last century. Keeping in mind that – we would like our fictionary product team to use new work approaches, check whether they can form a highly effective team, have some fun and focus their attention on something constructive. Of course, in reality, there will be no chances of scaling such a project. In addition, side hustle teams lose their energy and motivation to work long-term. In real life, people shift priorities – they can start working at a big corporation. Some had to focus on their income sources. Others got kids.

You can see a standard Gant chart on the diagram, used in almost every project management and planning solution. Our fictional team will use it heavily during their product development

Such a mental example could be beneficial for every technical team despite these facts. In our fictional situation, the team will manage to make an initial version of the tool; make a website; produce a video; write a couple of technical whitepapers; create “branding” elements, and improve their skills during the period.

In the following parts of this series, I shall explain and discuss how this team will manage to achieve all of this in their “free” time and how much it will cost them in terms of money. Every part will be focused on one of the following items – branding elements, website, video, technical whitepapers, and finally, team structure and way of work. Hopefully, this will help you build your product and structure your team using the same tools and approaches.

Five mistakes to avoid when building your startup

For almost 18 years, I have been working in product-based Start-Ups. During this time, I have seen a fantastic range of mistakes made during virtually every stage of their lifecycle. This range starts with something small, such as wrong employees’ computer equipment and massive investments in expensive server equipment or shady marketing agencies. However, I can categorize five mistakes as showstoppers for every Start-Up. They can instantly kill your company:

  • No business need: Unfortunately, many companies start developing a product without proper business research. I have done that at least five times in my professional journey. However, creating a technical product without adequate business verification is the number one reason for a Start-Up failure.
  • Erroneous business team: As we speak about business, many entrepreneurs and investors follow the “A player” hiring mantra. The business development teams in the Start-Ups I was part of were with quite mixed backgrounds (including people from Harvard and St. Gallen). And still, the results were mixed. You will need the team, which can do the job for you, but not the team with the flashiest CVs.
On the diagram, you can see a standard distribution of the mistakes made in one start-up. The most significant percentage is always for no business need
  • Erroneous technical team: Absolutely the same as the previous point, but for your technical team structure. I have worked with people from different backgrounds (including people from companies such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, etc.). Again the results were quite mixed. I cannot deduce a trend where the more prominent the background is, the better. The only trend I could figure was that your team needs the right attitude.
  • Not enough team compensation: Many entrepreneurs think they must take a big part of the equity pie after giving the money and the idea. However, this kind of thinking is wrong. Ideas and money are nothing without proper execution. And if you cannot motivate your team to execute, this is quite an excellent way to shoot yourself in the foot.
  • Aiming too high: Many Start-Ups aim too high in terms of customers. However, this is quite a harmful strategy, bearing in mind that big companies’ decision-making process is notoriously slow. Better start small and acquire a pool of smaller customers and then scale (ideally, you can bootstrap this part and take funding only for marketing and scaling). Using this strategy, you achieve two things – traction and early verification. Hunting deers and elephants[1][2] can come on the next iteration.

In conclusion, building Start-Ups is hard. Almost 95%[3][4] of the Start-Ups fail during the first 2-3 years of their lifeline. Keeping in mind that people around the World start over 100M new Start-Ups every year, this is a sad statement. The listed five mistakes and given that the average Start-Up founder comes with a huge ego are a recipe for trouble. Leaving you with a thought  – you can print new money, but you cannot issue new brains. Please treat your team well.

[1] – https://www.slideshare.net/theproductguy/elephants-deer-rabbits-choosing-the-right-customer-for-your-products

[2] – https://kimtasso.com/selling-basics-targeting-with-rabbits-deer-and-elephants-video/

[3] – https://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/040915/how-many-startups-fail-and-why.asp

[4] – https://medium.com/journal-of-empirical-entrepreneurship/dissecting-startup-failure-by-stage-34bb70354a36