If there’s one thing young startups simply do not need it’s noise. And when I say noise I don’t mean “a sound, especially one that is loud or unpleasant or that causes disturbance”.
Because in my experience, young startups can live with more than a bit of “audible” disruption. Like the hustle and bustle of an open plan office for example. Or music (both via a headset or common loud speakers). Even the clatter of cutlery from the kitchen, or the humming of a 3D printer in the corner of the office fails to disturb a determined entrepreneur and his/her team.
No, I’m talking about a different kind of noise. The noise which not even the most advanced noise-cancelling headphones can keep at bay. That noise generated by all those things necessary to actually start a business. Like legally founding the company, registering it with the tax and the social security authorities. Setting up an office and taking care of the administrative operations. From legal paperwork, accounting and responding to calls, to managing mail and setting up the right email systems and the web site, it never ends. Oh yes, and then there’s HR.
Young startups and keeping the noise down
Our team here at Starttech has gone through a long transformation journey. From being young tech startup entrepreneurs ourselves, to becoming early stage investors — still with a predominantly entrepreneurial mindset. We have been co-founders and/or founding investors in a dozen tech companies.
And during the course of this journey – and following others around us – we’ve learned some valuable lessons. One of the most standout points among the key needs of young startups during the critical early stages is undoubtedly the noise I’m referring to.
Interestingly, while all of the above is noise, most of the time it is not waste. Because there’s nothing more important than setting up your business in a sound way. Or taking care of the legalities, hiring properly, having crystal-clear books, and correct accounting policies. It’s far from rocket science, but if not done properly (as, unfortunately, is usually the case), a significant burden will rise suddenly and most unexpectedly somewhere down the road.
And guess what? In true Murphy’s Law tradition, that moment is very likely to happen in the middle of a significant fundraising round, or a mergers and acquisitions transaction – yes, you got it right, this is when proper due diligence will be performed.
Less noise = smoother operations
Surprise, surprise, when it comes to operations, the headache that the above type of noise creates can be extremely painful. Typically, the co-founder and CEO is the key developer as well. When this is the case you can easily imagine how disruptive any noise problems can have on the day-to-day running of the business, and growth.
Because if founders and/or top management are the ones responding to calls from the post office, visiting the bank to set up a new checking account, or making sure that an office is in order, things can grind to a halt. That’s due to the fact that these are the people usually driving a small, yet dynamic and creative team. The effect on product development efficiency can be incredibly debilitating. And this can (and will usually happen) at the moment when the very survival of that startup largely depends on that same product development efficiency.
How we lower the decibels for young startups
So what can you do? Having seen all of the above in action, and with the experience of working for years on how to optimally deal with this kind of noise, we have the recipe. In fact, the first out of the four pillars of the Starttech Ventures Venture Building Program exists specifically to offer a noise-free environment for early-stage entrepreneurs.
How? First, we offer a contemporary co-working space exclusively for our portfolio companies. Within that space our investees enjoy a state-of-the-art working environment with all the facilities necessary. On top of that, our portfolio companies also have a full-time team at heir disposal aiming to basically make their lives easier.
Our ‘noise-cancelling’ personnel includes assistants in business administration, IT support and sysadmin. Additionally, there’s accounting and finance operators, a recruitment officer, as well as resident legal and financial advisers.
Taking noise-cancelling one step further
We don’t stop here though. To add further value for our young startups, we also provide mentoring in lean and agile methodologies, as well as key “growth” services such as customer development, growth hacking, branding, user experience, hybrid marketing, and content marketing and copywriting.
In a nutshell, a team of more than seven full-time professionals are exclusively working for the Starttech Ventures portfolio companies. And their focus is to make sure that those fledgling companies will experience as less noise as possible where business administration and operations are concerned.
This is not only critical during the early product development stages, but it also helps secure that all pertinent tasks will be performed in a way which leaves no room for surprises further down the line. Like when an institution or investor comes knocking at the door to investigate opportunities.
Keep the noise down
Let’s face it, nobody likes noise. Well, with the exception of toddlers and heavy metal fans maybe. Clearly for us, one of the key secrets to the success of young startups is keeping the noise down. Especially when it’s time to scale up. When a startup entrepreneur works alone, he or she may have to cut corners out of pure necessity to reduce that noise; but with Starttech Ventures, entrepreneurs will never be alone.
We’ll always be there with one hand firmly on the volume dial, ready to turn it down more than a notch or two. We can even put it on mute if you like.
Enjoy the silence.