I say pleasure because as you know, I’m a secret techie. But what interested me was how some of the same problems that haunt architects also seem to haunt technology startups.
Shortly after the presentations began an investor, Eileen Burbidge asked one of the speakers (James Whitaker from Tweetdeck) ‘what is your business plan?’ and there was a rather embarrassed silence. She had pointed out the elephant in the room:
“How are you going to make any money out of this?”
Like architects to set up in business, the people who take the brave step to start a tech company are incredibly creative people, creating new platforms and software which allow us to do new things using internet technology. It is expected that they will take time to establish themselves and ‘get traction’ – build an audience. But in the end they still have to make it pay like architects do, and on top of that, most of them also have to satisfy potential investors that they can make it pay.
When did you last confront the elephant in the room?
If the question makes you uneasy I would ask yourself these questions:
- What is your industry, your client base, the people who will pay, asking for? Be honest.
- What is the answer you are providing?
Eileen Burbidge also pointed out the essential nature of uniqueness. We saw over a dozen startups doing pitches at the Christmas Crunch. The ones which will succeed are offering something that doesn’t exist at the moment, yes, but more than that, are offering something for which there is a need.
What do you do which your clients REALLY need?
That’s what you should sell.
By the way, I was at the Christmas Crunch as a guest of Woobius co-founders Bob Leung, Daniel Tenner and James Goodfellow. Daniel gave a show-stealing presentation on Google Wave – you can see his excellent blog post here.
Woobius are about to launch Woobius Eye, an iphone application which allows construction professionals to give realtime feedback from site visits – can’t wait!
You can see videos of many of the presentations (including Daniels) here. Other inspiring highlights were Jennie Lees from Festbuzz talking about how difficult it is to measure sentiment (such as audience reaction on twitter) in real time, and Nick Halstead, founder of TweetMeme, (who invented that ‘tweets’ button at the top of this post, on the future of Realtime Content and News.