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’.
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. 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 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
My name is Kamil Szybalski, I am inspired by challenges and driven by stress, results and analytics. I studied Political Science and Philosophy at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. Once I completed my studies I began to realize that I have a very engrained entrepreneurial passion, a passion that prevented me from doing any kind of traditional work and almost required that I launch a startup. This, coupled with the driving force of making my parents proud, continues to fuel me today in all aspects of what I touch.
My primary skill sets revolve around business development, marketing, affiliates, product, ux/ui, and a keen focus on strategic development and execution. I cannot see myself working outside of the startup environment and all that that entails: it’s who I am and the primary reason for waking up in the morning. I sleep because my body tells me to.
My name is Colin Brown, I come from a business operations background. Since the age of 21 I have been running million dollar businesses and managing teams. I really believe in the power of a well-functioning team. This belief comes from my athletic career where I worked my way up the ranks to play for the Senior Mens Canadian National Rugby Team. I believe in structure, working smart and making decisions off of empirical data. My educational background is in psychology where I received my BA from the University of Western Ontario. Since then I have been studying finance and am currently working toward earning a CFA designation. In my free time (which is minimal) I enjoy getting out and being social, I love hearing people’s stories and am inspired by the passion of others.