In my first failed start-up, I did what is now considered standard advice and it was an utter failure (which might explain why I still question all advice, no matter how standard).
The software was a small business system for manufacturers and distributors. I was the technical person, my co-founder was the business person.
How we did things:
- We determined the customers' most critical requirements.
- We built what they needed from those requirements.
- We installed the hardware and software.
- We got them up and running in test mode.
- We adjusted, reworked, and went live.
What ended up happening:
- Critical features were invariably missed. I had to add them.
- There was always some scaling issue we missed. Always.
- Architecture had to be reworked with every install.
- My co-founder was able to sell far faster than I could build.
- My co-founder was unable to help me build.
- Customers became disillusioned.
- I collapsed, vowing never to go through this again.
What I now believe:
- Make sure your MVP is enough.
- Beware being consumed by customer service.
- The first two founders must be technical.
- Your architecture must scale, even if your app doesn't.
- Always be brutally honest with each other at all times.
- Make sure all your failures are recoverable ones.
- Plan for 40 hours/week. Stop working at 80.
- Never quit. Start over, but never quit.