The Reverse Startup
What would you say are the normal skill sets that the founders of a website might have? Better yet, how about the founding team of a social sharing platform? We put some thought to the above questions and began to realize that the trend these days are really quite interesting. It seems that a majority of founders are more technically oriented (engineers and/or designers), than they are business oriented (marketers, operations, finance). These teams build beautiful products and mind blowing websites, but really only utilize word of mouth (basically their friends and other close networks) to bring their products to market.
I would ask the question: If a tree falls in the woods but there is no one around to hear it, does it make a sound? Absolutely! But it’s not going to make the papers and when the success of your business is based on site traffic this becomes a major issue. Therefore, we propose to you the concept of a reverse startup.
What the F is a Reverse Startup?
So what’s this reverse startup you speak of? Well, the concept of a reverse startup is a critic on the skill sets of the founding team of a startup. More so, it is when the founding members do not come from a technical product development background but instead a business development background. The business skill set of finance, internal operations, and marketing plus a few others, are usually talents that are added to the team further along in the company’s lifecycle.
It’s our opinion that not having these skill sets in your founding team, driving your company, from day one, can lead to a few major issues such as, ineffective marketing campaigns, poor product positioning against competitors, miss managed customer service, poorly timed financing rounds, un-scalable internal processes, bad hires and many other issues when structuring your company.
Advantages Of The Reverse Startup Model
Hence, we, the dudes, at Dudepins are using, what we have labelled, the reverse startup model. We are not hackers, coders or designers but are marketers, business developers and business operations professionals, which has made us very competitive in the market place. This “advantage,” has allowed us to grow our company quickly, while also effectively managing our cash flow.
That said, the reality is that most engineering-centric teams are not completely unaware of the operating side of a business. Similarly, business-centric teams also have some knowledge of product development and if they are ambitious, like us, will even try to learn the basics of some coding languages.
Our admittedly biased opinion comes into play when a team is creating a social sharing website, that will have some form of advertising as a primary revenue source. Hence, not having the business skills we mentioned above in your founding team, may set you up for imminent failure. The only exception to that occurs if your site is so unbelievably innovative that the world cannot operate without being on it, (cheers Mark). If this is your case, your product will market itself and the business talent will flock to you.
To build a little on the above, why not consider all the fantastic accelerator programs, weekend hackathons and other options designed to drive tech talent to programs designed by business talent which ultimately matches the two requisites we mentioned above. Business talent picks the ideas that work and scales them; but more on this from us in the future.
To sum things up, Dudepins is not the most beautiful and technological advanced website on the internet, it needs improving. That said, it is a website that was built on hard business, marketing and operations strategies by two dudes who know how to take a product to market, grow it and, when the time is right, bring in that fantastic, and extremely essential, tech component. By the way, we have been live for one month and counting.
In this revitalized age of entrepreneurship we hope to see more startups founded under the “reverse startup” model.
About the Authors
This guest post was written by “The Dudes” Colin Brown & Kamil Szybalski, founders of Dudepins. Read more from the dudes on their blog, and more about the dudes in our interview with Colin and Kamil. Find the dudes on Twitter – Facebook – Google+.
For a manly online pin board full of stuff guys like, visit Dudepins.com to “Man up. Sign up. Pin up.”