Roller Advice to Start Ups
Roller began with agility, grit and a single mission. Our MD Martin Sandhu has nurtured it from a startup of two determined developers in a single room, to a strong team of thirty. We have first hand knowledge on starting startups the right way and we want to share some of the fundamental practices we continue to enforce today.
Roller practices within the agile movement, which is why we cherish the feedback loop and we believe that is is a major catalyst for growth in the right direction. Agile development has its origin in the software industry, but it is highly applicable across different spheres.
Agile development eliminates wasted time and resources by enabling consistent customer feedback and leveraging it in the production process. Unlike the traditional model, where startups operated in “stealth mode”, lean startups are unafraid to expose prototypes and alert potential competitors to their product.
The agile methodology overcomes the notion that secrecy is necessary to preserve the idea or the product. The process is incremental because it involves regular adjustment and it is iterative because it is repeated over and over again in cycles.
Your asset is the idea that you have, but do not try to hold it close to yourself in secrecy. Instead, talk to everyone smart about that idea in order to refine it. Every time that you can get good feedback – you take it. Your unique asset is that you are in motion on that idea.
“Start-ups are not smaller versions of large companies. They do not unfold in accordance with master plans. The ones that ultimately succeed go quickly from failure to failure, all the while adapting, iterating on, and improving their initial ideas as they continually learn from customers.” – Steve Blank
Strive To Be Effective, Not Just Efficient
As a start up it’s very easy to be seduced by doing things efficiently – trying to do twenty things at once and attempting to do them all well. A small team with limited resources, be that finances or time, must select what they dedicate their time to carefully.
In order to eradicate wasted time, it’s fundamental that a startup chooses the actions and projects which deserve the highest priority. For this reason, Roller believes in a culture of smart work over hard work. The survival of any startup entails hard work and long hours, however once you are off the ground, longer hours aren’t what will set you apart.
As a young startup, Roller overcame its vulnerability by defining priorities and treating every minute the team spent on any given task as deliberate and never accidental. It is easy for a startup to find itself in a “response rut”. Especially if you do well, expect an infinite amount of information to come from different channels and demand your attention. However, do not be tempted to be merely responsive.
In a start up, success is not measured by how many things you can do at once. It is measured by how well you do the one or two things that are of the highest priority. The most effective entrepreneurs have mastered this skill, and either eliminate, delegate or outsource the rest. So know your strengths in every moment and remember the words of Reid Hoffman:
“Hard work isn’t enough, and more work is never the real answer.”
– Reid Hoffman
So, Now What?
We could write a whole book on the wisdom we have picked up throughout the years (and we might one day), but for this advice to be applicable to your startup you need the right team with the right level of commitment. A strong team becomes the epicentre of healthy disruption and good questions such as “What would our competitors least like us to do?”. In order to handcraft the user experience to the highest standard, your startup needs to have strong foundations. Good luck!