Do you really need a superstar executive team for your startup?

A startup needs a small, lean team where every person can perform some key aspect of product development. This lets you get to market cheap and fast. What you don’t need in the startup stages is a superstar CxO team (CEO, COO, CFO, CxO).

Why? Several reasons:

  1. High level executives are used to directing, overseeing, and building teams of people around them. They don’t usually do the actual work. I once hired a “Marketing VP” in one of my small companies, assuming she would do it all and save me money, but I quickly found out that she herself couldn’t really do the work and was used to having the “Agency” get the job done. I got far less than what I needed but it cost me way more.
  2. CxOs don’t *really* want to do a startup, blood-sweat-tears-wise. They want to leverage their contacts and experience and direct *everyone else* to get the work done. This is a very needed skill, later on in the game, but not at the very beginning.
  3. CxOs want (and perhaps deserve) to get paid a lot, but your company might be too small or to nascent to take advantage of what they can really do. It’s like using a steam shovel to dig a small hole. Sure, you can do it, but you could have also dug that same hole with a hand-held shovel that’s sitting in your garage.
  4. True CxOs consider themselves mercenaries, and if the tide turns the wrong way, very little holds them back from jumping ship. I remember talking to a potential strategic buyer one day who was super proud of this awesome Fortune 1000 CEO he had hired, only to see the shiny new executive leave the company holding the bag less than a year later.
  5. If it’s your startup, remember, it’s really up to you and your small band of brothers to get the job done in the early stages. Get your product up and running with some customers and ideally some revenue. Then get a *list* of potential CxO candidates who are interested so that when you start building up relationships with your investors, you’ll still be lean and mean, yet have a pool of talent you can pull from when you need to.

    Thanks to Ed Sim’s “Top-heavy teams” which motivated me to write mine.

Success checklist for software startups

Kleiner Perkins has a condensed list that describes what the ultimate software startup needs. I suggest you ask someone other than yourself (or anyone else in your company) measure your product against this list and rate how well you do against each point:

  • Instant Value to customers – solve a problem or create value with the first use
  • Viral adoption – Pull, not push. No direct sales force required
  • Minimum IT footprint, preferably none. Hosted SaaS is best.
  • Simple, intuitive user experience – no training required.
  • Personalized user experience – customizable
  • Easy configuration based on application or usage templates
  • Context aware – adjust to location, groups, preferences, devices, etc.

Hat tip:

Don Dodge

Paul Kedrosky

xb0x 360 rocks, but not for the games

I recently received an Xbox 360 as a gift from a new family member and so far I am loving playing my favorite console/network mulitplayer game, Battlefield2 Modern Combat

But that’s not why I love my 360.

Truthfully, the games just ain’t there yet. Sure, the HD resolution is cool but so far I’ve not seen any games that have really taken advantage of the new power. But what is totally awesome is the 360’s ability to tap into my media library.

Over the years, I’ve collected hundreds of gigabytes of music (legally!) and digital photos. Up until now they’ve been relegated to being viewed on my computer screen or heard through my computer speakers. The 360 has changed all this.

Using Media Connector (a free MS download) on the XP boxes in my home network, coupled to the 360 via our home wireless lan, I can now listen to all my music and watch all my photos via our home theater system. The 360 easily connects to our Media Connector-running PCs, accesses all the content it needs, and streams it to the TV & HiFi.

So now when my wife and I have a coffee and talk, I fire up the 360, play my fav. tunes, and run a random shuffle of family photos. We get the perfect backdrop to whatever we end up talking about, and finally the thousands of kid photos we’ve taken are given their just deserve: Center Stage in the family living room.

I would highly recommend you look @ the 360 if you have a similar situation, that being:

  • Tons of digital music & photos stored on XP machines.
  • Wireless Lan in the house
  • Home Theater