Profitless Startups

April 12, 2014

Interesting article – http://read.feedly.com/html?url=http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2014/04/problem-with-profitless-start-ups.html&theme=white&size=small&utm_content=buffer142c3&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

These startups do provide hope for aspiring entrepreneurs, challenges for the founders and employees and propels the innovation engine.  Don’t tax payers benefit when there is an uptick in innovation?

 


Minimum Viable Product for Enterprise Customers

March 2, 2014

You need to iterate fast to release, but not with a  poor quality product that does not address at least basic needs in an Enterprise situation

Firstly, it takes longer to identify test customers in a corporate setting vs a consumer website and enterprise customers have a higher expectation of software.  More importantly, your channel can make or break your product and with limited testing resources you don’t want to jeopardize the opportunity.

The right balance needs to be identified, with the right minimal features built well and working solidly.


Lessons learnt in IT Offshore Management for Startups

April 12, 2013

No matter how brilliant your new software  may be, it’s doomed if you can’t figure out how to make it efficiently, consistently and economically.

Starts up engage offshore teams due to lower costs & ease of getting teams engaged with tools like e-lance.  However, Creating brilliant and functional software is more difficult than ever due to a lack of offshore team  management skills . My experience at managing offshore IT organizations has taught me some important lessons about software design and production that, if heeded by software startups, provide an opportunity to bring innovative products to market without suffering setbacks – or even failure – from preventable mistakes.

1 – Get Inside the Software Shop

I’ve met too many people in this game who spend several weeks researching software vendors, in some cases even identify top talent, hand over project details  and get on the phone once a week for a status report.  This leads to enormous problems at launch time – Badly designed product and a mismatch between expectation & software delivered.

Speak on a daily basis.  Speak directly to the individual developers, testers, Business Analysts and not just the project managers.  You’ll be amazed at what you learn about the software development process and your software development partner.  Seemingly small pieces of information from these conversations can later help you refine product design or even clue you in to larger issues with the partner’s management.

 

2 – Build Prototypes Closer to home

You often get what you pay for in this realm, so it isn’t where you want to pinch pennies. Use the prototyping phase to refine, refine and refine some more. That way, when it comes time to spend money on software development,   you only have to do it once.

The added benefit of prototyping close to home is that you can iterate faster.  Expedited turnaround times accelerate overall development cycles, and in turn, reduce development costs. Rapid development also gets your product to market faster than the competition!

 

3 – The job does not end after launch

Once you launch (congrats!), resist the temptation to sit back and watch it all happen. To the contrary, this is when real development begins.  Ensure you have left a good budget for further development.    I have seen far too many software startups spend money pre-launch, leaving no allotment for development activities once they have received feedback from real users.  This is where prototyping also helps.  Continue to meet with offshore partner on daily basis.

 

 


Usability and Design gain market traction

March 19, 2013

Users want simple and effective interfaces.  Without a simple interface, the application is made hard to use and will be harder sell.

http://tinyurl.com/d5fwjh2

You know your web application design is minimalistic & Effective when design is such that when it is used in mobile devices, the interaction with your app is simple .

Effective design is an opportunity for entrepreneurs to apply good design principles to cumbersome applications and capture market share


My Startup Investment Philosophy

March 17, 2013

I recently started investing in Technology Startups in the Houston area.   I have developed a list of criteria important to me:

  1. Expertise to Guide – I would like to spend at least a few hours every week on the startups before I invest in the entrepreneur.  This would primarily be in guiding the founder & their team. My expertise is in delivering Enterprise SaaS to Enterprise customers.  This encompasses technologies related to Big Data, Cloud Computing, Machine Learning, and Predictive Analytics. Areas I can guide the entrepreneur include Technology selection,  Technology Strategy, Vendor Selection , Offshore Development Management, Software Delivery, Project execution and connections to other people who can assist the entrepreneur.  I am not interested in investing in startups led by entrepreneurs that don’t need or want my guidance.  I invest my money only after assisting the entrepreneur for several months to confirm that the entrepreneur has a need for my expertise.
  2. Action Orientation – The Entrepreneur should work fast, focused on securing customers developing the product in an iterative fashion.  I prefer speed of execution over a great idea.  Excuses from the entrepreneur for not moving fast is a red flag.
  3. Demonstrated Priority – Entrepreneur should be willing to sacrifice career to a good extent to accomplish Business goals. Priority is demonstrated by entrepreneur who puts money into his/her Business.  I need the entrepreneur to have put in at least $25,000 of his/her money in product development costs.  Prior to investing $25,000, the entrepreneur should not be seeking investment money from anybody.

Dynamic split equity

February 19, 2013

looks like a very fair model to fairly reward –http://techcrunch.com/2013/02/09/the-perfect-cap-table/


Talent availability important factor in technology choice

November 11, 2012

I am mentoring  a startup that chose RoR because the founding team liked it.  However, they are unable to find local talent sufficiently interested in an entrepreneurial venture in the Houston area.  Sure, one can find remote resources, but for startups I am a strong believer that the technical co-founder should be in same city as the founder.  It is definitely OK and probably even better if rest of the team are at offshore or remote sites.

Availability of talent is a critical component of technology choice!