Thursday, June 12, 2008

Project V - The Structure Of A Startup

Structuring a startup can be very difficult. Inevitably you have limited resource, so do you deploy them on marketing, development or sales ? Selling something first, to see if there's demand in the market, and then building it is an old trick deployed by many software companies. Indeed, one could argue that companies such as Microsoft still deploy beta products and ask good money for them. Of course, this doesn't cut muster in the hardware world, where a product has to be finished before it can be deployed.

Project V is all about the B to B market, so we have the luxury of not having to produce a 'final product'. In fact, online software, which is what Project V will be selling, is never finished. It is always work in progress and deploying an application service provider (ASP) model means that requests from customers can be incorporated in super quick time, without worrying about a product release cycle. But what has this to do with the structure of the company, I hear you ask.

Quite simply, the structure of a company depends on what it does. This startup has IP Jones as CEO, CTO, COO, system architect, product manager, project manager - and, to top it all off, I have to make my own coffee.

But where next ? The most difficult employment is always employee No2 (or No3 if you start up in partnership with someone).

Well, I've made a few fundamental decisions and, in response to your email, I shall reveal them.

Project V will not have a partner. Starting with 50% of a company means that, as soon as the first additional shareholder arrives, you loose control. having a sounding board, someone to have a drink and a banter with and someone to make every other cup of coffee is great, but it could cost you millions a few years down the line, as it has done for me. So, Project V is 100% owned and controlled by IP Jones.

As for employee No2. Well, I'm actually hoping there will be none. I want to keep this company totally virtual. All functions I cannot handle myself will be outsourced. This is becoming easier and easier to do and easier and easier to manage. Well, actually, the management remains a challenge, the communication is easier.

My aim is to grow a million pound company with a modest investment and working no more than eight hours a day. The key factor here is the experience behind those eight hours. Having been there, and being the owner of several very tattered t-shirts, I am building this company not on the back of hard work, but on the back of a hundred mistakes I have made in the past and will not make again.

So, those of you who commented that the company's structure will be flat can be reassured that it will indeed be so, since I shall be lying back on the couch to do most of the work.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mrthinks the owner doth protest too much.

Iolo Jones said...

Eh ?

michal said...

Interesting model. Sounds like it could work, although to me it seems like to be able to sustain the virtualilty of the company the investment may need to be a bit more than modest both in terms of money and time.
Anyway, as I said - good luck!