Friday, December 22, 2006

Burn Your Treehouse!

Check out the blog of Calgary-based, a developer of crowdsource-produced software*, for some great insights into entrepreneurship. If you click here, they’ve collected the best five entrepreneurship/startup related posts into one handy file.

My favourite post (so far) is “Burn Your Treehouse.” In this article, the authors suggest that when many people start companies, the first thing they do is turn their back on the customer – just like the little boys who build a treehouse and hang out a sign saying “No girlz allowed.”

The author (presumably Cambrian House founder Michael Sikorsky) recalls doing exactly that when he started his previous, company, Servidium. “We bunkered ourselves in and built the best web development framework in the world…. It had database abstractions, security and templating mechanisms for separating presentation and business logic. It made tea and buttered your toast and even gave us a patent. It did everything - except sell.”

He admits his company was un-customer focused. “We got so caught up in the genius of our very own framework that we forgot to include the customer as part of the process.”

The price paid for this was a product nobody wanted. “By the time we realized the error of our ways, it was too late. The product never sold and we were never more than a wannabe product company kept afloat by professional services.”

So how do you stay out of the treehouse and engage customers early? “You force it,” says Sikorsky. “Build the most compelling feature of your product and get it out there. Just build it and see if you’re meeting an unmet demand. If no one is willing to spend any credits on your product or service, you’ve got your answer.”

Bottom line: Make the gap between product development and revenue as small as possible.

Click here for the full post (there's lots more). It’ll make you laugh, cry and smarter.

*If you want to know what that means, the next issue of PROFIT may help.)

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