The Technology is Nothing Without the Team

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 2 Open for Business Stage, 3 Early Customer Stage

I remember once talking to my high-school physics teacher, who had been one of the leading teachers in our district for decades.

“Don’t you get tired teaching physics?” I asked him one day.

“I don’t teach physics,” he replied. “I teach students.”

The same wisdom applies to securing financing for startups:  investors don’t fund technologies, they fund people. The corollary is that companies don’t bring technologies to market, they bring products to market.

Neil Kane in “Culture Clash: Scientists Vs. Entrepreneurs

When we talk to prospects for our market creation and market exploration services we always want to know if they have “working technology.” This has a different meaning than a mainstream customer might infer. It means that the team can deliver results that would otherwise be unavailable to their prospects at a given price within a given timeframe.

Most bootstrapping firms start out by delivering a service, or at least wrapping their product in a thick protective blanket of consulting to protect their customers from any sharp unfinished edges. And if you have ever used a product too early you know that the jagged edges of tomorrow can scratch some pretty deep wounds that are slow to heal and may leave impressive scars on what was once a promising career.

This is why early customers look hard at the people in your startup: they know that the technology cannot be divorced from the team and that how you respond when your product is producing unsatisfactory results is the most important question they have to answer. Because,  as Gerald Weinberg advises, “nothing new ever works ” and sooner or later you will have to respond.

This means that it’s critically important that you act from the beginning to build trust and demonstrate that you are reliable, by actually being trustworthy and reliable.  That does not mean you have to be perfect or offer a perfect product. Just that you and your team make it better over time and promptly address any issues or defects.


See also “My Interview with Peggy Aycinena

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