>I have been involved in a number of technology start-ups and every day was a learning experience!
However there are a few lessons I have learnt, which I put into practice with involvement my in other technology companies.
1. Compared to the Market, is the Commercial or Technology ahead?
I always try and have a gap of 6 months, so if the technology is ahead of the company’s commercial traction, then the majority of funds and effort goes into commercial initiatives. Vice versa, if the commercial arm of the company, is pleading for the technical department to catch up with the market , then time and money goes into the technical department. I have always encouraged healthy tension between technology and commercial team members.
2. Follow the money, Timing is everything!
Every start-up needs early adopters and cash. So when looking at the addressable market sectors, where is there commercial activity. Too many companies have developed great technology, and the market is not ready, cash runs out and growth is impeded. Great technology needs a ‘buying market’ and timing is everything. I was involved in a mobile phone games developer, and we had to wait over a year for Java enabled phones to be released. If we had waited a year, not hired staff, our funds would have given us a far quicker and greater return.
3. Have a team of diverse skills.
Start-ups are usually friends who get together and form a company. As friends, you usually have similar skills, interest etc. The skill is to bring someone in, with a different skill set. This usually creates problems with the person integrating into the established company and friendship.
I have been involved with a company, where three people went to University together, they employed myself to increase the commercial skills of the company. It took 6 months, before I came part of the inner circle. At a Board meeting and then in the pub afterwards, we discussed this issue. They all agreed, if they had their time again, when they had chosen someone to work with them, which took a huge amount of effort, they would continue with this effort, to integrate the person into the company.
Author: Tim Jenner- Small Business Advisor, member of SGBA (firstname.lastname@example.org)