Tag Archives: Mainstream

How Do You Grow Without Losing Control? Five Factors

Interview with Kelly Masood, President, Intilop, Inc.

Situation: An emerging company is gaining traction as it moves from early adopters to mainstream. They need to continue to develop new technologies, while bringing down the cost of existing products. This is a delicate balancing act for a small company. How do you grow without losing control?

Advice from Kelly Masood:

  • It’s important to maintain momentum and continuous improvement. From a practical standpoint, we do this by applying common sense to our technical discipline. Common sense, here, is a relative term. It isn’t really taught in school at any level, but is gained through experience. This is the true expertise of the CEO.
  • The delicate part of the balancing act is the mix between developing new technologies and building an effective business model. An effective business model is built on innovative and cost effective products and sustainable profitability. Since new technologies go through development stages, it is important to create break points where you transition from development to productization to marketing and sales. Continuous improvement in existing products based upon customer feedback and new product ideas for future developments are crucial aspects of a successful business model.
  • If you want to minimize outside funding and investment you have to watch cash flow and development expenses. Revenue from existing products is the key. When you don’t have resources, you become resourceful. If the team is dedicated to producing innovative and good products that make business sense, they figure out how to accomplish it without cutting corners.
  • To mature your team over time you must keep them motivated, occupied and adequately compensated today while inspiring them to make it big in the future.
    • You maintain interest through the pursuit of new technology and the learning associated with it. Engineers like to see their designs work and turned into a product that creates value, is used and is appreciated.
    • Keeping the team occupied and challenged starts with choosing the right talent in the first place and then getting them to focus on building great products.
    • Compensating them with a fair salary means locally competitive rates, sweetened with stock options to provide great upside potential.
    • For us, retaining great employees is about enabling them to innovate products that will find broad market acceptance.

Key Words: Early Adopter, Mainstream, Develop, Cost, Continuous, Improvement, Common Sense, Business Model, Cash Flow, Expense, Price, Retain, Employees, Off-shoring

How Do You Move from Early Adopter to Mainstream? Ten Thoughts

Interview with Russell Glass, CEO, Bizo, Inc.

Situation: A company has established market leadership in an emerging market. When you innovate in a niche, focusing on early adopters, eventually you run out of early adopters. The challenge is broadening the appeal to a larger mainstream customer base. How do you cross the chasm from early adopter to mainstream?

Advice:

  • The challenge is both messaging and cultural.
    • In messaging, you must support the new norm. This means convincing the customer that if they are not with you, they’re being left behind. You need to demonstrate that your established, proven solution is the new norm.
    • The cultural challenge is maintaining a culture of innovation and attracting the right talent while becoming a mainstream company. An attraction to new talent is that you are cutting edge – changing the world. This aura is critical to a start-up. You must maintain this innovative culture as you become the market leader.
  • How do you overcome these challenges?
    • Finding people who’ve been there and done that increases the odds in your favor. We hired a marketer who had helped take SuccessFactors through the same transition.
    • Hire for excitement, energy and enthusiasm. Quickly remove new hires that turn out not to fit.
    • Maintain a freedom to fail atmosphere. You need people who will take risks, but who will also step back and quickly change direction when the risk isn’t productive.
    • Decision-making speed is a great advantage of small companies.
  • Create an organization that celebrates innovation.
    • We have “Hack Days” when employees are free to work on projects of their choice. A new product that brings business audience targeting to social media came from a Hack Day project.
    • Keep everyone informed. We have company-wide daily stand-ups. Individual updates are quick – 30-45 seconds. This fosters open communication and awareness, and surfaces issues before they become problems.
    • Weekly, we send out full disclosure emails including key financial metrics, successes and failures.
    • Monthly we have executive-only stand-ups. These are longer, but updates are quick and focus on progress to goals, as well as next month’s goals.

You can contact Russell Glass at glass@bizo.com

Key Words: Market Leader, Niche, Innovator, Early Adopter, Mainstream, Crossing the Chasm, Messaging, Culture, Cutting Edge, Hiring, Decision-making, Communication