Launching a startup is unlike any other challenge a person can undertake. It’s an incredibly unique and abstract landscape to work in; like a rollercoaster, filled with ups and downs. Conceiving an idea and hustling to create a business from little or no resources requires a special type of passion and skill set. Having the drive to push through the tough times and the ability to create opportunities when they seem inconceivable is what makes or breaks a startup. It’s an overwhelming realization that as a leader, you need to be excellent at speaking, writing, presenting, communicating, planning, strategizing, motivating and innovating. It’s a test of virtually every imaginable attribute.
Unfortunately, there’s no standardised formula for success as every startup faces its own unique challenges and setbacks. This makes it difficult to know which direction best to pursue, particularly in the early stages of development. Unlike being an employee, there’s no one telling you when to work, what to work on or how to prioritise your tasks. All of these factors make working in a startup an intangible experience that requires an agile workflow during turbulent times. Now two years into the development of Glaass, I feel comfortable discussing some of the challenges we’ve faced and the tools we’ve incorporated to overcome them.
Possibly the greatest resistance we face is the contrast of two very different industries. Having worked on construction and engineering projects in numerous countries, it’s abundantly apparent the resemblance of personalities within teams. If you didn’t already know, construction is a technology dubious industry, and this holds true around the world.
The obvious solution was to find someone in the technology and software industry to hedge the gap, a business partner specifically. A word of advice, choosing a business partner is like selecting a husband or wife. You want someone who shares your work ethic and is also able to contribute in areas you’re inexperienced, so choose wisely. But how do you find that special person when you’re in an industry so distant to theirs? In my case it was a serendipitous situation that involved a degree of luck. The thing about luck is that everyone gets their share; don’t let yours go to waste.
A word of advice, choosing a business partner is like selecting a husband or wife!
If I hadn’t of made the most of my luck in that situation, it wouldn’t have mattered. I was going to do whatever it took, whether that meant advertising, talking to people at computer stores, joining online forums or even attending hackathons; I was going to find that person! You’re going to face a constant stream of problems in a startup, a relentless attitude is essential.
You’re going to face a constant stream of problems in a startup, a relentless attitude is essential.
The second major problem we encountered was the geographical diversity of our team. With people from Denmark, Australia and Czech Republic all working on Glaass we needed a system to keep everyone connected and on track. We found three really effective applications to help us do this.
The first is Trello (https://trello.com), which is a cloud based management tool that lets teams organise and manage project tasks. It’s highly customisable so it can be used for anything from organising your weekly chores to running a small business. We split our builds into boards, and then categorise individual tasks into the following columns – backlog, bugs, grooming, development, testing and done. It’s a really visual way to work with some neat features like notifications, due dates and statuses. Best of all, it’s free!
The second application we’ve found really useful is OneNote (https://www.onenote.com). Created by Microsoft, OneNote is a cloud based notepad that allows multiple users to access a shared note at any time. It’s great because you can have various sections for specific activities like planning, design, sales and future ideas. Simply put, it’s our creative notepad which allows us to brainstorm ideas and work transparently together. It’s also free.
The third application we use is OneDrive (https://onedrive.live.com). Similar to Google Drive and Dropbox, OneDrive allows you to share files with one another, which is useful when sharing photos, mock-ups, spreadsheets, presentations and more.
What’s interesting is when you look at the solutions we’ve found most useful, they’re not dissimilar to our construction product. Utilising the power of the cloud, combined with lean software and a streamlined design, we’re connecting construction teams closer than ever to help them work in an organised and accountable environment. Engineers, architects, designers and managers can now work in parallel, on a platform that transparently and efficiently empowers them to close out tasks faster.