Drupal · Early stage

Got a team, about to jump in, and I dont want to mess it up.

Zvi Epner Fourtein.com

June 30th, 2014

After working in enterprise for a while, the web developers that I've ever met were usually only good enough. But Ive gotten good at finding people i consider top pros now and I want to jump in, get contracts, and start my next life. 

Problem is I don't want to mess it up with my novice. I believe I have a very high-quality product on my lap, serious engineers, and there certainly seems to be market need for the flavor of framework in which we've dove deepest. But, I literally don't know what the next step is. Partnering is up for discussion.

Taking advice.

Tony Clemendor Founder/CEO - GiftWow, Growth & Operations Guy, Startup Advisor

June 30th, 2014

Zvi.  Step 1.  Confirm your belief that you have a product.  Identify your potential customers and talk to a few of them.  See if they are as excited about the product as you are.

Tim Maliyil

June 30th, 2014

Zvi,

I have to agree with Tony here.  You need to get some customer validation early on to help ensure that you're on to something here.  Get somebody to use, hopefully pay for it, and get a case study about how great your product is.

Either you or someone on your cofounder team needs to be a chief salesperson in this early stage.

Good luck,
Tim

Rob G

June 30th, 2014

Zvi, i echo Tony and Tim.  first step is product/market fit.   Steve Blank (steveblank.com) has some good tools/templates you can use as guides.  In my book product / market validation also includes some attention to and validation of your business/distribution/sales model including pricing model(s).  Do you know yet if your target end-user is a consumer or a small/medium business (SMB) or enterprise?  It sounds like you have identified what could be the core of a strong engineering team.  You identified a key goal "get contacts".  i would suggest that you put equal effort into identifying the core of a strong "revenue team" and get him/her/them involved early to help drive the product/market validation. 

Shobhit Verma

June 30th, 2014

Please do not leave your job until you have a good basis to know how things are going to play out. Feel free to ping me on skype. I will be happy to discuss your case. skypeid: shobhitmail

John Sechrest

June 30th, 2014

break things into many small risk experiments. don't think from the product point of view but instead from the customer value point of view. start small with goals that are achievable this week. seek early revenue as validation of customer interest.

Zvi Epner Fourtein.com

June 30th, 2014

All-
Thank you so much for this, really. I'm hearing, sensibly, to validate the concept by identifying what customers would pay for. In this case, we are already doing work for enterprise clients and see that they are indeed paying for this, but I personally have yet to jump out of employee-dom to business owner.

(Btw, by 'product', I just meant the team, capabilities, and depth of experience.)

Someone privately asked about what the product is and the tech we use.

We work in the drupal framework (and love it), which is still somewhat young, but it's acceptance has been growing pretty quickly. 

We're currently doing a combination of:
- platform dev, platform features, multisite, dev process management
- and, custom site builds (mostly just heavy-lifting projects, sometimes, end-to-end)

Click and Build
We have a client for whom, we manage a multisite platform of 400 or so music artist websites, for example. In this case we built an installer that creates the music site in about 10 minutes and is then customizable via admin ui pages. Client sites are charged by build, plus maintenance.

Complicated part..
In essence though, the product is really the ability to build custom, platform site-installers. 

Another example, publishing firms who maintain multiple website properties, but need to run on a common core application. When a company policy change occurs, for example, the admin workflow on a site may need to change platform wide, and this is the way to handle the volume and complexity.

How's that?

Rob G

June 30th, 2014

Sounds like you could spend some time to refine your pitch... :-)  Reading between the lines it sounds like you are (have?) building a services company with perhaps some product-like 'stuff '?  If you struggle to communicate to this group what you do then it will be pretty tough for your prospects to understand. 

Anonymous

June 30th, 2014

Rob: I think he's trying to conform to the Forum rules of not asking a question that is actually a thinly veiled pitch blast. If so, thank you Zvi!

My read is that he does Drupal website deployments for customers, probably with some custom modules added in to make Drupal easier to use for a novice. Regardless, the specifics of what exactly the company does isn't relevant to the question.

This sounds like a "crossing the chasm" type question. He built a successful company that works on a small basis with local developers and smaller contracts, but wants to take the company to the next level without alienating existing employees and customers. (Please correct me if I misread the question Zvi). There's a ton of literature available on crossing the chasm including a book by Geoffrey Moore called "Crossing the Chasm". I'd suggest checking it out.

Mike Moyer

June 30th, 2014

Use a dynamic equity split, like a Grunt Fund, to compensate participants and protect you from deadbeats!

Zvi Epner Fourtein.com

July 1st, 2014

Thanks for that clarification, Jeremy, but I wouldn't go assuming the worst right away.

Truth is, I thought it would be a good way to find a partner that knows how to execute on a semi-rare situation like this, where I've done what I know how to do, and that is to gather a few team members who I can rely on.

I'd like to really start a business around the things we know how to do and hopefully start doing projects that are a little further out of our normal set of work.