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I’ve always struggled trying to describe when a startup is no longer a startup and I personally like Steve Blank‘s, author of the Startup Owners Manual, definition.
Steve also suggests their are two stages to building a company, Search and Execution but i believe the startup to company transition actually happens over 3 stages. This additional stage happens after search and just before execution. The time period when you are just starting to execute, raise money and hire as opposed to actually having enough money and the momentum behind your repeatable, scalable, business model to fund operations and growth. I add this level of clarification primarily because in my experience they are operationally different and can also be mapped to employee risk and company structure.
The law of diffusion of innovation is a great way to view the lifecycle of a company and to determine where you as an individual are probably going to find the most happiness and satisfaction on the job.
If you are startup junkie you love the innovator through early adopters stage, and if you’re into minimal structure type you will enjoy when a company reaches its tipping point through the end of the early majority and last if you really enjoy all of the processes and procedures being in place the late majority through laggard stage is probably the best type of company for you.
Knowing the level of risk and structure in a company will help make everyone in the process happier. The tension on the edges is where CEO’s get replaced, employees turn into jerks and where most people are miserable and complain.
Two other thoughts:
- A later stage company can experience all three stages during periods of innovation. This is important because its the place large companies can get employees excited. Organizations like Google use the 20% of your time concept to keep people passionate.
- Some people can move up and down the entire stack Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison and of course <your name here>
- If you are thinking about starting a high tech business you should read the Startup Owners Manual, review the course online or take my graduate level class at University of Colorado.
We’re already hearing stories of people trying to run the latest version of Windows on older machines and having issues, but that’s not the biggest issue IMO. My fingers are crossed for the success of Windows 8, but i’m concerned. The first OS to try and pull off multi device support is going to be riddled with platform design issues. The post PC era is all about designing mobile first, but which mobile device: phone, tablet or laptop. Combine this with resolutions spanning 320×640-to-2560×1440, varying processor speeds depending on the device and a large majority of our existing designers trained in print or TV are we destined for a UI/UX nightmare.
One thing i do know Steve, If Microsoft is going to crack the mobile apple/google juggernaut it has to focus on the designer/developer. IMO traditional ad spends like this one below is a waste of money in the next 8-12 months.
Steve, you need to keep innovating and take as many risks with the marketing budget as you did with design and vision of Windows 8. You need to modify your launch budget ASAP to focus on the designer/developer ecosystem and I would suggest the following:
- Create a 100 million venture fund
- Average deal size of 100k
- Lead deals and do not wait for co-investors
- Allocate 100 million to designer/developer education, mobile design patterns, and community evangelism
- make everyone better and Microsoft will become the cool kid again
- Spend 100 million on ads to get developers excited about the platform
- The families and friends of IOS and Android developers should be asking why they aren’t developing for Windows
- Allocate 50 million to design and engineering schools across the county
- 25K in product per school
- 50K in cash for research on multi device
Now the really crazy part, all of this activity needs to be driven from your retail stores thats right urban malls are now VC’s offices.
- The retail staff should be made up from product evangelists, developers, support people, VC’s, but no sales people
- No commission
- Appropriate salaries to attract awesome local developers
- Weekly hackathons, developer presentations, end user support – you are building up the ecosystem in local communities across the world
- All employee bonuses are tied to the success of the investments made in each store
Steve its time to Think Different, I know you can do it.
Endorsements are a light weight method of aligning your social capital with a colleagues specific skills. Below is my current snapshot.
What I am finding interesting is the perception vs reality. I primarily think of my self as an entrepreneur/innovator who has specific skills around UX, UI and business process, and the world so far has aligned itself with the entrepreneur/innovator. This is good, I think, but it clearly shows I am missing the mark on educating people on my other skills. I have since added a few portfolio pieces via an app from Behance. I wonder if it will change the perception or if my reality is off.
Offering a simpler way to align ones social capital feels right, but i wonder how it effects us in 10 years. The attention economy needs to be revisited, now that we have all of these subtle signals: likes, endorsements, thumbs up. The bigger social question, if we take a step back, is how will the like/endorsement change our society. The simple answer is personalization. Whats the real answer?
What can we do as a community to encourage/engage people to become mentors? Than as Pandora’s box opens with individuals, accelerators, incubators and conferences all looking for time, what can we do to keep the tap from getting shut off?
I never go into a mentor/mentee meeting expecting anything, but a thank you if am the mentor. I have received them in different ways: socially twitter/facebook/g+/linkedin/blog post, mail digital/physical and every once in a while a gift. Sometimes I get nothing, which always surprises me, but as a shy person i get it.
If you are unsure of the proper etiquette here are some rough guidelines:
- Always send a personal thank you via email within 24 hours (independent of the value of the meeting – this is about time not value)
- If the meeting offered concrete suggestions independent of the value, use some social capital and thank the person publicly (if you are not willing to thank the person publicly you should not request or accept the meeting)
- If the person introduces you to someone always respond in a timely manner and thank them in the email
- If the person gives you additional time and helps connect you to other people on a regular basis think about asking them to be an advisor for your company or a personal mentor
- Never expect anything, but a thank you
- Never ask for money or stock in the company
What are your thoughts on mentor/mentee etiquette?
Hmmmm - Let me ponder this question for a minute, perhaps you should tell me?
The New York Times did a piece on this concept over the weekend titled “What Do You Do With the Brilliant Jerk?” and its making its way around the startup community. People are arguing both sides, but what i find most interesting is where they suggest this type of person excels, innovation.
Innovation is a tricky thing and it requires: persistence, stubbornness, and vision, which if broken down could easily be miss-interpreted as “brilliant jerk”.
I can tell you first hand that one of the most frustrating parts of having a vision is the time that it takes to get others to understand it; days, weeks, months and in most cases years. This does not fit well into our Twitter based world of elevator pitches, million dollar 30 second spots, or coffee shop conversations. As the slow food movement is providing an alternative to our fast food obese society, I wonder if giving the Brilliant Jerk some extra time, early on, will make him/her just a brilliant person.