It’s really hard to start writing such a blog post on 1:45 AM Saturday night, but the time is perfect for the thoughts I would like to share.
Since Friday I participate in the Athens Startup Weekend event. I am on a team with Stefanos Vasdekis and Dimitris Theodorakis. Stefanos is my best friend for 23 years and business partner for the last 10 years. We have done several successful (and unsuccessful) startups in the past together. Dimitris is still an undergraduate student at the National Technical University of Athens and definitely has the startup spirit. While we do believe that we are working on a great idea during the weekend, our main reason for participating in the event was to share our passion for making ideas a reality with others.
During the event, there are a lot of people asking us how we made it to have a website and a working product within 1.5 days. What’s even more amazing is that we see many people having great ideas but no development team to create them. Everyone is seeking for developers!! And that is where I want to share a story:
Back in 2001 we had an idea of creating a software that would allow merchants create their own shops. An ecommerce software. We had little idea of how development was done and we agreed that we won’t become developers since there are other priorities to take care as well. We managed to create a product called “Siteowners ecommerce software”. We even got the first few customers using it. However the era of SaaS was to come and we believed that we should re-create our software as a web based software as a service application. And we did it. The product is called Magnet Commerce, it’s running and many customers depend on us to run their stores. During that time though, we experienced exactly what most of the people experience today: Developers shortage:)! I can feel the frustration and desperation when you have a great idea and you can’t do it because you have no developers.
I still remember the day back in 2005 when we were drinking coffee at Starbucks and decided to start writing code to expand our software. Even when we decided to do so, we really though that it was the worst idea we ever had. But it proved to be one of the best. Don’t misunderstand the message. We did not ever become developers. We learned how to develop and we currently develop less than 10% of our time (even 5% I would say). The more we learn about development the better we succeed in finding and guiding people from India, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, etc. to develop for us and the less we develop ourselves. In the last year, we have developed (from scratch) a greek social network called Zuni.gr which now has 50K members, 5 facebook applications which are being used by 450.000 people, expanded our Magnet commerce and also did some experimental projects. And I can guarantee that the development was only 10% of our time and we really work almost 24 hours a day (we love it:)).
While we would always welcome a full time developer in our team, we were never forced NOT to build an idea because we had no developers. There is no such excuse. If you believe in your idea a lot, you can learn to develop in a very short amount of time; days I would say. And once you get the overall idea, learn how to outsource your development and your idea will expand. Then you will get angel investors and maybe VCs and build a very strong team of many people. But first make sure that you and the rest of your startup team can do everything without any external help!
Time for some sleep:) 2:20 and the event continues at 9:00:)