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Vision, teamwork, good hires: how technology startups succeed

The gestation period for tech startups and other companies is an exciting time for innovators developing “the next great product.” At the same time, it can be a period of danger due to uncertainties, including the lack of clarity about how the product will evolve and how it will change five years later.


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Initially, there is a start-up phase where those involved have to pass the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) period and start building the team. That means determining who, when and how much should be hired. Another challenge for technology startups is the tendency to focus on profitability in the early stages of development. This is a mistake. Or find the right investors who share the entrepreneur’s vision and take the time to plan. Be patient! Not making the right decisions at the right time can derail a project or end its life cycle prematurely. That’s why it’s important to go through the process – from ideation to testing to MVP and then to full production – and to do it methodically, making adjustments along the way.

Growth over profitability

Starting a business can take a while to evolve. Starbucks went unprofitable for nearly a decade, but the iconic gourmet coffee giant took the long haul as it developed a solid game plan. Uber initially evaluated its transportation model in the San Francisco Bay Area. Once the leadership saw the path to profitability, they began to expand. YouTube — after initially launching as a video dating site about twenty years ago and failing to attract users — didn’t make any money for 15 years. Google CEO Eric Schmidt saw the future, however, and forced YouTube to focus on growing the site aggressively, with the goal of “growing the number of views to 1 billion per day.” [one billion per day].” It took four years or more for Facebook to turn a profit. Adding features to keep users engaged promotes long-term loyalty of a digital platform.

Do the legs first

All startups, big or small, should include these key steps:

  • Do extensive research first. Map out the features your product will include. Assess the value of these features to potential users/buyers. Make sure there is a market need.
  • Collect the seed money for the implementation of the proposed MVP. Outline both the short- and long-term vision for potential investors. Once the MVP has proven successful, look for additional funds for expansion.
  • Evaluate the competition. Identify a special or unique niche that your product and business model can fill. Then be the first on the market.
  • Start with a small team. Conserve resources and add more talent during the scale-up phase. Check data stats on a consistent basis to help plan for any price corrections.
  • Make users enjoy using your product. That leads to good word of mouth, rave reviews and, in some cases, exponential growth.
  • Concentrate on the long game. Create a well-thought-out methodical expansion plan that can get employees, investors, and maybe even customers excited about the future.

Clarity in the start-up phase is crucial. It’s also where a startup business can turn and go back to the drawing board if it turns out that the product is going in the wrong direction. Using feedback from MVP testing and data metrics, developers can adapt products in the early stages before overspending and hiring top talent prematurely.

Rent right

Deploy a lean team early on, mostly programming engineers and people on the business side of operations. Recruit product managers if there is a viable product. In the scalable growth phase, bring in a leadership team that can take advantage of what is developed as an MVP. Topflight management is a key asset in moving through the different financing stages required to achieve specific growth milestones. That can also require leadership to create new iterations of a product until the absolute best results are achieved and everyone involved shows their support.

In short: recruit people who understand the process and who fit seamlessly into the company culture. Keep in mind that in today’s hiring environment, the demand for top technical talent (e.g. data analysts) is high. Once the right people come on board, leadership must develop a corporate culture that encourages employees to stay on the team. Constantly recruiting new employees and then training them is expensive.

Adapt to changes in the market

Uber started with Uber Taxi, an app that allowed users to connect to a traditional taxi service. By turning into today’s Uber, the company was able to avoid some of the regulations that traditional taxi companies must adhere to. The Uber business model also provided thousands of people with part-time, sideline income. During the height of the pandemic in 2020, the previously rolled out home delivery service Uber Eats found its niche and became very successful. The lesson here is that Uber adapted to market conditions. It kept their drivers working. As of early 2020 (pre-COVID), Uber had more than $11 billion in revenue and $74 billion in marketing capitalization, not to mention more than 19,000 employees according to thestreet.com.

Trust the data

YouTube found the video dating site model a winner. When data stats showed it wasn’t working, the founders spent a year turning the new MVP into a highly scalable platform that’s now a $500 billion company. The YouTube founders turnaround was so successful that Google bought the company for $1.65 billion. The secret? They were able to put egos aside and let go of their original strategy of a video dating site.

Data science, including data mining, the interdisciplinary field that uses scientific methods, algorithms and processes to extract information has become easier in today’s digital world. It’s important to have a data science team on board early in the process, working with operational teams to help those units make more informed, data-driven decisions. Cracking the numbers to extract information keeps a project on track. Regardless of the industry, data science teams need to be strong in three core areas: math, technology, and business acumen. John Bottega of the EDM Council.

Successful scaling

While vision is the foundation, it’s important to plan for an IPO during the growth phase — even an exit strategy where the business is sold later. It’s important to make money, but equally important to remember that a more established brand can take that startup to the next level. Witness how Facebook acquired Instagram shortly after that platform hit the Apple Store. Then focus on the next great vision for a startup – if you are willing to leverage the past success to create capital for the new project.

Continue to the next iteration if the first or subsequent MVP doesn’t work. Map out what scaling up would look like at an early stage of product development. That’s the best time to make changes and eliminate the “bottlenecks” needed to scale and control costs. Ultimately, successful technology startups emerge from widespread user adoption and satisfaction. Periodically review user data to identify trends that need to be addressed. If there is a market need, act on it. Build loyalty and add new features as needed to retain customers and add new ones. That’s the recipe for scaling a business to maximum growth.

About the author:

raghuRaghu Krisnegowda is a senior engineering manager in Southern California. He has served as chief technology officer for several start-ups. Krisnegowda has nearly two decades of experience leading and developing high quality products. For more information, please contact raghu@archive.co

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