Archive for May 17th, 2011

It’s in fact a strategic question, launching a startup, with the “all-in-the-hurry” rush of the beginning: dreams, passion (core!), energy. Straight from an idea, new innovation (techs, economics, social…), a team or sometimes a single person and it goes: idea, prototype, business plan, network to make the buzz and finetune the concept. Well…and here surges the problem:

  • is vision strong enough to be long term and hold a big market enough?
  • isn’t the idea already dead-born, too mainstream, crowded?
  • which kind of stakeholders, partners for which use, in the jungle?
  • how much cash available and for how much time?
  • how much time before new comers, copy, better and cheaper?
  • and when will surge the “Peter Principle” and how recognize it before it runs?
If all the topics were evaluated with patience and attention, there would probably less startup ventures…Because one would be feared and discouraged facing such unknown and risks. But fortunately, “creation comes from pulse, rythm, power and passion, sometimes in pain, loneliness and shadow”. There’s somehow something strong behind, to learn, raise, fail too, change the world and manage. Anyway, anyone who passed by these steps know that it worths largely the game.
Then comes a time to confirm and sustain the whole project. And that’s another affair, for who has passed through starting steps and succeed to convince partners to go further: market, journalists, angels, funds, customers…Even if you hide your face, some will remind you “hey, when do your build the big picture next?
There were some days where funds tried to get rid of founders, prefering to introduce senior management with experience, to build the next organization. Because creation is one, but raise the whole story might be more difficult and tied to special skills founders may not hold. Funds may be  tempted to protect their investment and bring it to team with more track record and success in the past, that guarantee them the best result, and that may be not with former founders…Understanding huge organization, build and manage teams, know how to grow up motivation, efficiency, productivity, dealing with ERP and IT solutions is lots of challenge founders may not afford and/or didn’t experience in. Management, as a global mean to grow together all forces and resources in a company has to be practiced before, with long years in several companies from different sizes and sectors, and it’s not obvious for who didn’t, in the past. “Driving” people means having done it before, with a diversified platform of cases, companies, cultures, countries, jobs to draw the best of it.
A young creator may not have the required sensiblity, patience or touch to get the best of teams. I agree that some of them have sometimes such a charism and track record that can replace experience. And that’s maybe part of the speed of enlightment, around the project. A trend that takes off now, prefering to keep founders at the right place, to hold the pioneer spirit: rid of with all money needs, founders can concentrate them to global strategy and seem to reassure investors as they engaged some resources.
Despite this, a good leader knows first how to build his trusty board and operational ranks: he has to. and what about an ideal friendly, efficiency and “good team on the bus” look like? According to me, I would suggest a team around:
  • founders inside, of course!
  • investors, for their role only: lending money (but not leading strategy, for heaven’s sake!)
  • consulting/advising: out of the company, not involved, not too close (no mates, no husband or wives!) ; good friend for with no engagement at all in the company, it’s important to be outside with no pressure, to keep “fair thinking” as best as possible
  • failure stars: draw the best from others mistakes is core for starting business
  • models: mentoring, icons…everything that keeps a goal, target, dream alive with all the power around
  • professors and academic sources to keep on the knowledge environment and hold the  growth for learning more
  • experience, throughout senior management, veterans, successful storytellers who can give method, process and business behavior
  • youth: concrete, essential, sheer access to young blood to hold the spirit of “building something that can change the world”. Young generations don’t hesitate to push the limits and keep the “gear up” to next level
  • network and networkers. More linchpins, fellows who drive the dance, link people, give their arts for free. Hooked to several networks, to stare and share the next pratices, and learn the “lean startup” methods
Thinking of what’s all these things could produce in fair, bright and well driven hands and brain?
Startup’s begining is like a single musician, but always requires tabs: how, where and with who? and these questions become more important, as the startup rise and burst the ceiling. It needs next a good leader, good musicians, good tabs, good map and be sure nobody’s lost. And this kind of experience is rarely understood, experienced, with youngest generations and young creators, who only see speed, miracle and energy.
Well, we’re not supposed to fire all young creators, saying they are unskilled for the follow up, but it’s to say they should be surrounded by many skills and advises, they sometimes don’t fell or value. And the whole system must go on, with energy, passion, envy and team innovation: hold the light, generate the spark for future generations, means oldest show them the way, because they know, because they failed too. And failure is probably the most difficult thing to swallow, but gives you a special taste: taste for danger, taste for forbidden, taste for fear. Everything that is full of speed and power, to build something strong, relevant and remarkable…

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