30.9.2011 | Sakari Nahi

It is an exciting time to be an IT-startup like Kompozure. Disruptions are coming from right and left, caused by both emerging technologies and new social and agile working methods. Here I’ve written of five topics that are, in my mind, the most important principles for a successful (IT) startup. I believe these principles are applicable in other industries as well.

Lean Startup

Lean Startup is a term coined by Eric Ries to denote a no-nonsense startup.

There are many benefits to the rarefied atmosphere of engineering here in Finland, but one of the negative side effects is our desire to always build something perfect. Of course in the end that is a good thing, but during the startup phase this poses 2 problems:

  1. Building anything perfectly takes time and money
  2. Who decides what is perfect?

Ries’ concept Minimum Viable Product argues that the product needs to be presented to the potential customers as fast as possible. And this does not mean that the product should bring you the morning paper in addition to slicing the toast – the product should be presented the moment it solves even one problem.

This tight focus makes certain that we do not waste any time on developing useless features. It also makes predictions more accurate.

Agile

Time shouldn’t be spent on planning, but doing.

Your business plan may be valid for making your vision clearer, but does it have to be fine tuned to death? When you proudly present the first version of your product to potential customers, who then insult you by calling it crap – what do you do?

Startups can be forced to change direction many times when searching for the business model – and because of this no time can be spent fine-tuning things not related to customers. Different situations have to be approached as possibilities for new product and business visions.

Like Steve Blank says – No plan survives first contact with a customer.

Networking

You may well be enlightened and very aware of trends in your industry, but as a startup your influence and market share are inconsequential. Truth is that your competitors are familiar with the market in ways that you are not. Besides, none of your information will stay secret anyway.

You will get the best results by creating a strong network of partners by openly taking part in relevant forums.

Kompozure takes part in different IT-related events and is also searching for the best spot in the Microsoft partner network. Startups that specialize in Microsoft’s technologies should at least investigate the opportunities offered by BizSpark. We are also located in the Aalto University’s Start-up Center, where it is easy to go to talk to similarly spirited entrepreneurs.

At the moment the coolest vibes for entrepreneurs in Finland can be found in events organized by Aaltoes and Arctic Startup.

Social Media

Social Media offers startups a unique way of presenting itself in the light it wishes. Your company doesn’t have to be a cold, faceless entity anymore – it also can have an identity. The people following your company are potential customers, competitors, employees or investors. It is hard to over estimate the value of SoMe.

A modern startup thinks about ways to utilize Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and other relevant social hubs straight from the beginning.

Cloud Computing

Investing in monstrous amounts of hardware is no longer the thing to do. Kompozure has 13 different services to handle web sites, SoMe, CRM, billing, document management, source code management, etc. What we don’t have are racks, servers or admins for these systems. The feeling of freedom is exhilirating.

Kompozure pays an easily estimated bill monthly for its usage, and thus our costs are, in nature, operational expenditures. We strongly subscribe to Microsoft’s technologies like Windows Azure and Office 365. In addition there are several viable services on the market for specific requirements, like the Finnish Wiila-service.

For a bootstrapping startup these kind of modern options are especially juicy.