Build Your Next Startup on These Two Pillars
Imagine you are the CEO of a company just about to go ring the NYSE bell. You have worked hard to get to this point. You remember the early years of spending countless hours building the product, pitching it to venture capitalists, designing the website and hiring the brightest talent. You had a few less gray hairs but this moment makes it all worth it.
Stop right there...while most entrepreneurs dream of going public it’s often not the reality. But, what gets in the way? The real challenges are often not technology-related but more business-related. The business side is sometimes forgotten. Sure, you’ve partnered up with an amazing technical engineer and built the first version of the product but growing the business successfully is more than the “code”. What happens when you start hiring people? What needs to change or stay consistent through the growth of the company?
To better understand the answer to these, and other questions, I recently chatted with two entrepreneurs, - Ian Bell, co-founder of the media company Digital Trends and Lee Mokri, co-founder of retail in the workplace innovator Byte Technology.
Collaboration Culture from the Beginning
Ian co-founded Digital Trends back in 2006 with his co-founder Dan Gaul. It is one of the top technology and review sites in the world and has over 130 employees in multiple different locations. When I asked about the core drivers of collaboration in his company Ian said, “data and teamwork have both been big drivers”. On the teamwork side, Digital Trends’ core values are at the center of everything they do, says Ian. The core values are Authentic, Driven, Connected, Approachable, Passionate and Fun. Digital Trends encourages people to be vulnerable – “it’s ok to struggle or make mistakes, you will not be judged or put down by others.”
On the data side, Digital Trends choose to make decisions based on measurable data that is provided – not to prove a point, but to eliminate objectivity. “Opinions and shared experiences are great and valued, but they alone cannot be the drivers behind a decision,” says Ian. He encourages employees to try new things, to measure success and failure through data, and be vulnerable to each other. According to Ian, an important part of collaboration is that it happens in a safe and fun environment.
The Brand and Mission Are Your North Star
One of the key elements in launching a startup is understanding your true mission and “North Star”. Lee Mokri, co-founder of Byte Technology in Marin, California says “your brand and mission act as a 'North Star' and allows you to prioritize work that'll have the biggest impact on the brand.” Lee and his wife started Byte Technology in 2016 with the focus of extending the reach of retail into the workplace.
Since 2016, Byte Technology has gone through a couple of brand iterations. “Our brand is built around functional benefits, 'what problem are we solving,' and emotional benefits, 'how does Byte make our clients feel.',” says Lee. “Your brand should be seen as a constant work in progress and viewed as a journey. It isn't won by the fastest runner but rather the entrepreneurs that can keep improving their brand and just keep going. “
No matter the size of the business, collaboration is key. When 8x8 works with companies it is not only evaluating the IT needs but also the culture and North Star of each business. We want to make sure you are on the right path of success not just from the beginning but all the way until you achieve your desired future. To talk more about collaboration in your business, reach out to one of our specialists.