Ever heard the term ‘build it and they will come’? Are you confident in your hot new software product, simply because you know it’s ‘cooler’ than an existing product? If you picture the moment a great advancement in computer science occurs, do you imagine a lone computer nerd hit by a sudden stroke of brilliance?
If the answer to any of the above is ‘yes’, you may have fallen foul of some tech start-up myths. Tech start-up myths are easy to believe. They fit with our hopes and ideals, and our need for a narrative. Unfortunately, falling foul of some of these myths can cause major problems for tech start-ups.
So, here are three tech start-up myths, and the realities behind them.
Myth one: the solitary tech hero
The first tech start-up myth is the solitary tech hero myth. This is the belief that there’s a single person who, after a sudden ‘eureka moment’, is responsible for thinking of, developing and launching a revolutionary breakthrough in software development.
The reality behind software advancements isn’t quite so lonely. The idea of a solitary tech hero is one purported by Hollywood films, by awards ceremonies, and by our human desire to put a name to an invention. Think Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Sir Tim Berners Lee. In truth, each of these icons of technology advancements had a team of thinkers behind them. They had a foundation of previous breakthroughs to build on, and a plethora of helpful input from others.
Plus, groundbreaking ideas aren’t such a ‘eureka moment’ explosion of amazement. The ideas preceding pioneering advancements are more of a slow-burn. Even a truly wonderous idea takes time, business sense, and a lot of hard teamwork before you know if it’s leading to something big.
Myth two: build it, and they will come
Tech start-up myth two is the belief that if you build your software product, people will, of course, start buying it. (Without much effort being placed into sales or market research, even.) It’s the idea that you need only focus on making a great product, and then you can watch the cash roll in. People do what they know, and it can be easy to find comfort in the ‘build it and they will come’ myth.
Unfortunately, believing in this myth is problematic. Without sales, you can’t know if there’s a market for your new product in the first place. In fact, 42%of start-ups have failed due to a ‘lack of market need for their product’. It makes sense – if people don’t want your product, you won’t sell it. Plus, even when there is a need for your product, there is no guarantee that customers will find – and choose – your software in a marketplace as vast as the ocean.
The reality is that building your new product is only half of the battle. A tech start-up scene is a busy place, and without curating a customer base from the start, your software might never leave the production line. It could be the best in world, but without sales, no one would know.
Myth three: better software always wins
Tech start-up myth three is the idea that ‘does it better’ will always beat ‘does it first’. It’s the belief that a product that solves a problem better than another, similar product already on the market will always beat that competitor once it enters the market. This myth revolves around the idea that business success is all about the product.
It might make sense on paper that a better product would do better in the marketplace, but unfortunately, reality isn’t so cut and dry. Business success is as much about your customer relationships, marketing efforts, and your brand reputation. While your ‘better’ software might be great at solving pain points, it won’t have a time-tested reputation behind it. Customers won’t know that it’s better, or if it will always be better. Being time-tested is a selling point that a new product won’t have.
That doesn’t mean that start-up software is immediately going to fail – all big tech companies have been the little fish. But you’re unlikely to have a completely unique feature set, which means you will need to compete. To compete, you need a combination of product, customer relationships, and a strong brand identity.
The common strain
All three of these tech start-up myths have something in common: they ignore the bigger picture. They ignore the team behind the product, the knowledge behind the marketplace, and the effort behind success.
Software development, tech breakthroughs and business success come from great teamwork and a wide expanse of knowledge. So, remember that behind every successful genius, product or business, there’s a team of people, hidden behind a tech myth curtain.