Software Startup: Be one or help one?

July 27, 2015

My day job pretty much involves evaluating startup ideas all day, and then building a plan that makes them grow  really quickly. So it goes without saying that I live eat and breathe this stuff all day. That said, I still get questions about the Startup world, and am hoping that this will answer some of the questions.

Are you sitting on a piece of code that needs a little spit and polish to be the next big thing in the software industry? If you’re a talented developer with a particular vision, entering into the software fray today is a risky yet extremely rewarding proposition – if you make it.

You’re probably itching to bring your product to the forefront of people’s consciousness and turn it into a household name ala Facebook, but breaking into the industry is no easy feat. Just ask the thousands of new developers and startups who fail on their first few attempts and run out of funding for their next project.

You must have a Game Changer in your Hands

The first thing you have to consider is to make sure you have something that the public wants and needs, something that nobody else has been able to provide. The world doesn’t need another search engine or another email provider. Your idea or software has to be simple enough to be accepted and practical enough to be used. Your baby has to be a game changer. Lose sight of that and you’re pretty much screwed.

There are many ideas floating around that you can build on. The key here is to get a good team together to help bring your software to life. It doesn’t have to be a massive team – you need to keep it small because of funding issues anyway. Once you have your software ready to roll, the next step is to test it for bugs and leaks. You’ll be able to bring your product to market faster with the help of a company specializing in software performance testing because of time constraints or the size of your team.

A Lesson on Investing from Despicable Me

Being a startup in the software industry is hard. It’s harder still to get the necessary funding you need from VC’s and angel investors to continue refining your product and get it to market sooner. It’s reminiscent of a scene in Despicable Me, where Gru went to the Bank of Evil to ask for a loan and was denied because his business plan was lacking a key component.

 

The kicker was the statement by the bank manager about Gru’s other schemes that all failed to give the bank an ROI, and that there were other villains younger and hungrier than he was. The moral of the story is that before you ask investors to pump money in your startup, you must have a solid business plan that covers everything. Leave no stone unturned and make your presentation as professional as possible.

Your presentation has to Kick Ass

The use of early alpha or beta versions of software yet to be released have been very successful in presentations simply because it gives your audience something concrete to see and interact with. It must be fully functioning, or at the very least it should have all the core functions working so they can see where the presentation and their money is going. You have to convince them it’s worth their time and money and they have to believe in your product.

Final Thoughts

What else is there to do? Well, you could think of an app or software that really understands and addresses the needs of people who want to get fit at home, for example. An app that automatically calculates the amount of work and specific exercises needed for fat loss or muscle gain, automatic weight progression calculation and rep/set ranges depending on the user’s weight, age and fitness level.

 

Everything in the market now is pretty lame and just offers a way to track your workouts. A pen and notebook does the same thing. Try to come up with something that no one else has done before and you’ll be in the same company as Gates, Page, Brin and Zuckerberg. But if you have a so-so product, you’d probably be better off being an angel investor instead.

 

 

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