Scal­ing star­tups

IT star­tups keep look­ing for men­tors to seek guid­ance and sup­port. CIOs can play an im­por­tant role, es­pe­cially in the evo­lu­tion of star­tups aimed at pro­vid­ing so­lu­tions to en­ter­prises

InformationWeek - - Cio Voice -

e was talk­ing about the next par­a­digm in cloud com­put­ing that will trans­form the way we look at IT in­fra­struc­ture; it has re­ceived good trac­tion with the ini­tial set of early ex­per­i­ments. An­other one was pas­sion­ate about the new world of con­verged con­sumer and en­ter­prise mo­bil­ity; there will be a need for a dif­fer­ent type of mo­bile de­vice man­age­ment. Se­cu­rity re­mains a fa­vorite sub­ject with all kinds of para­noia and some­times re­al­ity de­mand­ing at­ten­tion and bud­gets. And then there are many so­lu­tions vy­ing for at­ten­tion with no real dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion.

Tech­nol­ogy evo­lu­tion cre­ates op­por­tu­ni­ties for in­no­va­tion limited only by imag­i­na­tion and pas­sion. The num­ber of star­tups is grow­ing in leaps and bounds sup­ported by fam­ily funds, an­gel in­vestors, in­cu­ba­tors con­sti­tuted by aca­demic in­sti­tutes, and some­times the rich and fool­ish. Af­ter the ini­tial idea is ger­mi­nated many of them strug­gle to move to the next level. While the con­sumer fac­ing ideas find their mo­ments of truth quickly, the en­ter­prises fo­cused tend to seek ad­vice on how to pitch and con­nect with the CIO and busi­ness.

Call it co­in­ci­dence or maybe the in­dus­try is chang­ing in a de­fin­i­tive way, the re­cent past had some ex-CIOs and in­dus­try friends talk­ing about get­ting in­volved in help­ing star­tups. There al­ready ex­ist many for­mal and in­for­mal groups that tend to the needy and also help them with fund­ing. Most such groups want to look at the idea, busi­ness case, and back­ground of pro­mot­ers to de­ter­mine if they should in­vest their time or bet their money. Op­por­tu­ni­ties ap­pear to be rang­ing from some great ideas to down­right ridicu­lous.

Men­tor­ing star­tups seems to be the “in” thing to do and talk about in so­cial cir­cuits. The com­mit­ment ranges from us­ing old con­tacts and in­dus­try con­nect to open doors or at least cre­ate an ini­tial meet­ing and di­a­logue, to tak­ing on for­mal roles with shared fi­nan­cial upside, should any in­ter­ven­tion re­sult in an en­gage­ment and busi­ness. The ruboff cred­i­bil­ity is in­deed mak­ing some dif­fer­ence to young en­trepreneurs and also giv­ing them a dose of re­al­ity to what works and what does not. The part­ner­ship is in­creas­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of sur­vival and suc­cess for star­tups.

Some star­tups tend to thrive in a niche with­out get­ting dis­tracted, giv­ing them higher propen­sity for sur­vival. For the chal­lenged ones one of the rea­sons has been the founders be­com­ing a bot­tle­neck by not build­ing depth of man­age­ment; their pas­sion and emo­tional con­nect that brought them to a mar­ket po­si­tion ends up sti­fling the com­pany. They are un­able to let go of mi­cro­manag­ing ev­ery per­son and ac­tiv­ity thus rarely scale up to their true po­ten­tial. This is largely true for in­di­vid­ual owned com­pa­nies; part­ner­ships face other con­flicts and chal­lenges.

Se­rial en­trepreneurs on the other hand have en­joyed fruits of suc­cess with their abil­ity to de­tach them­selves. Mov­ing on to their next idea or wave of evo­lu­tion gives them new op­por­tu­ni­ties. They know who to tap and what they need in­tu­itively; their ex­pe­ri­ence adds to their abil­ity to find the right cus­tomer ad­vo­cates and ad­vi­sors. Know­ing when to push and when to give up comes nat­u­rally. It is not that ev­ery­one can be a suc­cess­ful se­rial en­tre­pre­neur, the suc­cess or fail­ure of the first one is the most dif­fi­cult, anal­o­gous to mak­ing the first mil­lion dol­lars.

CIOs can play an im­por­tant role es­pe­cially in the evo­lu­tion of star­tups want­ing to pro­vide so­lu­tions to en­ter­prises. Their un­der­stand­ing of the busi­ness con­text cou­pled with their tech­nol­ogy ex­per­tise gives them the abil­ity to craft ar­chi­tec­tures that pos­i­tively im­pact busi­ness out­comes. I be­lieve that CIOs should adopt a few fledglings depend­ing on their in­ter­est and in­cli­na­tion; shap­ing the fu­ture has merit that it is pre­dictable and brings self-ac­tu­al­iza­tion. The other op­tion is to read about suc­cess sto­ries and won­der.

Arun Gupta

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