The Up in Start-Up

I have a new start-up that I’m about to light the go fuse on.

It’s not my first business – but it is the first one I’m calling a start-up. All the others were just companies that I was starting. Or new business ventures I was getting involved in. But I have to say that having a start-up is way more exciting than either of those two things. I think having a start-up is the new way to do things.

And I’ve tried the old way plenty of times.

I have one spectacular “twenty year company” fail under my belt and a few other fails of varying proportions ranging from the ‘never got going at all’ to the ‘took flight and fell in the sea’ with a really good ‘built the thing but it’s still on the launch pad’ in the middle. At the moment I also owe more people more money than any man’s dignity should have to endure and I’m on the verge of declaring myself a serial failurepreneur.

All this leaves me re-reading “Chaos Monkeys” and “Hatching Twitter” for inspiration and wondering if I have finally learnt enough to get another business into orbit with sales and incentives in the right places and the required ‘single miracle only’ to get it going in the first place.

I must be honest and say I’ve debated long and hard with myself about the whole calling it a start-up thing. The term creates the great marketing illusion that you’ve started and that you are up. And running – with revenue and things. It creates a sense of movement and implies a certain state and direction – which I suppose is why it’s used and why it sounds so exciting. It evokes romantic images of the next Facebook or Twitter and if you’re not careful, masks the fact that it’s still a business where the normal rules of business still apply. It’s not just an idea, an app, a website or a press release and it lives and dies by the sword of customers. Or the lack of customers.

You need a lot of up to keep the start going and in my experience those two words are not always best friends.

My company headquarters is now in my garden wendy house – refurbished to a habitable state but still not much bigger than a dog kennel. In the last months of winter I froze my butt off and now that it’s summer it’s like working in a Swedish sauna without the steam rocks or the speedos. But I have a good enough internet connection and with the help of outsource developers and designers (a story for another day) and my ever patient brother-in-law, we’ve built the apps needed for a really good product and we’ve put the server and business admin console onto mega-scalable Amazon WS.

We have good and strong incentives built into the business model, we have stable and easy to use apps that are not bandwidth hungry, we have a model that can easily scale nationally and internationally and we have a hosting platform that is elegantly handling queries, ready to scale quickly when usage rockets.

So start-up it is and now all I need to find out is whether everyone else thinks my product is as good as what I do. And get sales.

Beta testing of the apps is finishing off this week and given the amount of testing we’ve put into everything I think we’ll be good for a pre-2018 go-live with the business launch so I can go into next year with, yep – hope in my heart.

Because I think at the start, it’s hope that puts the up in start-up. And yes I know that hope is not a strategy, but it is the thing that sometimes gets us up and out of bed in the morning to do everything else.

I’ll post again soon – best be it not from a floundering life raft in the middle of the ocean.