Been at start-up for close to 2 years back and had a lot of fun. I have not been able to perform the change I wanted to see in the education space. I have changed a lot of my perspectives changed in this journey. They are going to help me in life for sure in addition to my start-up.
- Your domain expertise and building network connection plays a very large role in concept and definition stage. If you have jumped in to education like me, it will take time to build the domain expertise and network connections. A 400+ connections on LinkedIn does not mean that you have network needed for start-up.
- Technology plays close to 10 to 15% in start-up journey and plays more role in the scaling stage and growth stage. If you are in a start-up at concept stage and take responsible for domain, please ready to let go technology.
- You might have executed multiple agile projects successfully, with product owner. Please be aware of the efforts to organize, prioritize and schedule features by the product owner. Is one of the founder already played the role of product owner and are ready to be aware and play role of product owner(agile terms)?
- A start-up founder should be ready to experiment to perform sales in start-up and if not ready for the experiment and want to be part of start-up, become a founding employee. There is no escape. To unlearn your judgement and prejudices and let down ego is more difficult than learning the art.
- Your realize the dependency on the family and see how much granted you have taken the family always and across the transition to start-up. They do not have the same comfort now, compared to you in corporate job. You are responsible to provide the comfort via communication and interactions.
In the past, I had considered execution skills more important and did not consider sales skills important. I have been happy to be a technology person and have refused to take business roles. The last 2 years have made me realize my ignorance and judgement that has not allowed me to learn the above skills effectively.
The workflow of salary credited and family spending gets disturbed and creates emotional in-balance at home, a larger challenge to handle. The challenge made me dormant and I could not focus on work at start-up and literally paralyzed me and I had to take genuine efforts to bring the balance.
As individual with technology background and exposed to business, the learning’s are as follows.
- Marketing and branding gyan are important in scaling and growth stage. In concept stage, have a customer facing simple website and build analytics to track user and user behavior. Focus on consumer behavior in addition to sales.
- Funding by VCs helps you to fund the marketing and business development expenses in the staging and growth stage. Funding does not help you to solve the last mile problem or create product adoption.
- Cash is important for the survival of the start-up. You might want to focus on products as start-up and focus is good if it generates cash to allow survival of the start-up.
- If you are technology start-up , be open to perform high end service work on short term basis to generate cash. If you are techie, please be aware that you perform technology consulting work to generate cash and not show case your skills. Work as individual contributor.