Saturday, April 17, 2010

Aging Startup

A client I consulted with recently embarked on a large project with the primary aim of driving more customers to their on-line store and making the buy process easier. There were some social media features thrown in for good measure. The idea being everyone's doing the Twitter and Facebook thing so we should throw our hat in the ring and hope for the best.

A hundred thousand followers on Twitter in Week One seems about the right number (entirely without basis though) so let's target that. Turns out that reality falls far short of that and everyone is left wondering what they did "wrong". The idea of using reaching their customer on their mobile devices seems too far-fetched idea to the powers that be. In a sense they are trying to replicate an e-commerce success story from a decade ago at a time when the world has moved on to other things and will continue to do so. By when the project rolls out into production, the vision would have become out-dated and irrelevant.

This client is interesting in many ways. They were a start-up about fifteen years ago and a lot of their leadership team is from the pre-IPO days.The rest of the crew is young and collegiate - a bunch of bright, talented and energetic people. With management being from a different internet generation, they are no longer at the bleeding edge of technology or innovation. While they still have the cool start-up vibe and are fairly low on red-tape they are beginning to resemble any other traditional company of their size in every other way.

If this company is representative of it's demographic, an aging start-up is like a bottle of soda left open.Until the fizz dies out completely, it will have some giddy up to it - in this clien't example they continue to be the leader in their domain. But once the last bubble dies, they may just become another average corporation that moves at too slow a pace to keep with the the changing tides of technology.

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