We live in an age of unparalleled opportunities. The cumulative disruptive influences of internet, mobility, open source software and cloud computing have brought down the cost of starting a tech startup to an all time low.
Its been about two years since we started Althea. Starting a company teaches many lessons. I started living what I had read about in many books. Entrepreneurship is no spectator sport.
Below, I try to quickly articulate some thoughts and lessons that came in handy. Primarily from a technology development perspective.
– Leverage & embrace open systems [include open source, open data, open apis & open platforms]. Push open source initiatives that lead to reduced costs of development and ownership. Always resist the developer urge to build everything from scratch.
– Focus all proprietary development efforts towards real innovations & adding value. Ensure that all significant development efforts are tied to a business case. While stop gap solutions can get you started, you need to carefully choose your role in the food chain and supply significant value there.
– Innovate continuously and drive the changes in your space. Build and maintain a sustainable advantage that keeps you ahead of the curve. Become the thought leader in your area of specialization. Remember, innovation today is commodity tomorrow. Your competition is going to copy your ideas and catch up with you shortly.
– Stay ‘truly agile’ and adapt constantly to the changing landscape. Accept the fact that disruption is inevitable, and make embracing it a part of your ongoing plans. New business models are getting conceptualized and tested everyday.
– Treat employees as unique individuals and not as replaceable resources. Capitalise on the unique abilities of each person and deploy them appropriately at different phases of a project. Also, startups win by putting a lot of responsibility on young people and letting wonderful things happen.
– Invest heavily on tools and infrastructures that lead to an increase in productivity. While startups dont operate with infinite resources, they succeed by building small but highly efficient and focussed teams. I remember Charlie Munger quoting “The company that needs a new machine tool, and hasn’t bought it, is already paying for it.”