Startup Follies: Customers vs Code

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Quick thoughts on the incredible rise of small, smart tech startups. There are dozens that attack the same spot. There are at least a dozen social sharing providers targeted at retailers to allow the retailer’s customers to share their purchases. Last year, there were about a dozen Facebook commerce sites. There are a million calendaring applications that are web based and make it easy to book a meeting with bunches of folks…
So are all these iterative ideas helpful, or do they actually mean something. Are the sudden rise of startups in a space like the invention of calculus? Leibniz & Newton published almost the exact same idea without ever having been exposed to the other…spontaneous genius or inevitable development? I would say, despite genius, it was inevitable.
Startups seem to be the same. Of course there are copycats, but when businesses rapidly evolve in the same spot, it means only a couple of things: 1.) That there is a real and true business opportunity there, and/or 2.)  Technology has evolved to a point where the next natural outlet was solving this problem. If the former is true, then all companies can be winners. If the latter, there is going to be some code for sale in 6 months.
How to tell if your startup is solving a business need or an obvious technology evolution that isn’t unique?
Customers. Paying customers.
Customers are the fuel that make a business. They provide the need, they provide the capital to operate and they provide the insight needed for your company to evolve. That sinking feeling in your startup – well, that is you focusing on your needs (product, staffing, fundraising) and not your customer needs. Everything going along swimmingly? Well, that is the result of solving customer problems…regardless if it is using cool new tech.
Focus on the customer and your company will grow. Focus on your company…well call me when your code is for sale.

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