My phone vibrates as a WhatsApp message gets in from a friend who now works at a startup accelerator. “Do you intend on starting a start-up?”.
“Just like that?” I mutter underneath my breath as I exhale heavily.
If you — like I am — develop software for a living, you probably receive different morphs of the same question all the time. One thing they forget is that we don’t all have the same paths. If we all started going door to door making pitches for funding, who will build the products?
The problem is a simple one when you put some thought into it. There is a percentage of people out there that think one needs to understand the nuances of developing software to build a tech start-up. Similarly, there is a percentage of people that believe every software developer is cut out for building and running tech companies. They are right and are wrong at the same time.
Admittedly, they are lots of great software developers with the drive for entrepreneurship and the ability to execute — Looking at you Mark Essien - and it’s great when these skills come together. Should that become a yardstick to measure everybody’s success? No, for many reasons. A good percentage of software developers enjoy what they do and just want to build great solutions. No one needs to be a CEO to be a part of something great.
No investor hands the money over to a founder just because they say so. A very simple question has to be answered every time - Why?
Why the burning desire to go through with this?
Why do you think your solution will work?
Why would you keep going when no one else believes?
While it’s really exciting to daydream about running a company and posting a billion-dollar valuation after a short period, it’s not all petals of roses on that walkway. You must be ready to deal with the thorns to pick the flowers. The tech start-up scene has seen a lot of growth over the last year. A side effect of this magnitude of growth in any sphere is that a lot of people begin to see the glam and the basic principles (problem-solving in this case) that have caused that growth to begin to die off. I’m just a software developer with no experience running start-ups but I have been around start-ups and founders just enough to give this a lot of thought.
The bottom line, everyone with solutions to problems should be encouraged to put them out. A lot of the infrastructure to help is being built and built well too with hubs and accelerators being set up to aid founders. A scary thought is that the system begins to fall for what I like to call “the buzzword syndrome” with everyone jumping on ideas just because they seem cool.
Entrepreneurs need to keep in mind that building a company from scratch is difficult and every company needs to stand for something or it’ll fall for anything.
Michael Obi is a software developer that’s enthusiastic about community-driven growth. He’s always looking to share and listen to ideas. He currently works at Crackle Nigeria, an Abuja-based Software company. Michael can be found here.