If you ever worked in a company and saw it grow from a small team to more than 50 people you’ll know how it feels to see that flexible, fast moving, company you remember from the early days evolve into a slow moving creature.
This process is completely natural and has nothing to do with the quality of your team. In fact you can have the most amazing team on the planet but once they are 50 people strong (or even before that) they will lose the ability to move fast.
5-10 year ago moving slower was an inconvenience, but the changes we’ve seen in the last 5 years caused this “inconvenience” to become a strategic threat:
1. Your competition got faster
In the past 5 years the cost of developing a product has plunged and the time it takes to get to the market has shrunk to a fraction of what it used to be.
While your team is stuck with an endless roadmap and has it’s hands full for the next 3 months, those small startups move at the speed of light and meet the market’s needs before you even blink.
Moreover, if you’re actually successful you’ll have 3-10 teams on your back in a matter of months eliminating the head start you think you had.
2. Small teams can scale too
5-10 years ago a small startup who wanted to play in the big leagues had to make huge upfront investments in hardware and negotiate complex deals with co-hosting companies and CDNs to meet the basic SLA requirements of the big players. This put a very high barrier on scale.
The cloud has changed all that. Any startup today (Even bootstrapped) can scale to millions of users at a reasonable cost.
And cost isn’t the only factor. Virtualization has automated many processes enabling a small team of people to manage hundreds of servers.
3. The big players have opened their doors to small startups
In the past if you where an operator looking to add VAS you would approach one of the big players (Amdocs, Comverse etc.). You wouldn’t even dream of letting a 10 person startup anywhere near to your servers!
Today the big players (Operators, publishers, media giants, brands etc.) have come to realize the value of working with those small and creative startups. They’ve learned to balance the risk with the value they get from working with those companies early on.
Big players today who choose to work with small startup get early access to innovative products, more attention, faster dev and a cheaper price. So why not?
A cavalry without scouts is a group of people on horses waiting to get hit
So you’re in battle. You’ve assembled your force (product + team + clients + revenue) and you’re marching on towards your goal (a billion dollar company :-).
The one thing that’s missing is your scouts. A small unit of 2-3 people who, between them, have the full skill set required to take any idea on any platform and turn it into a working product in minimal time and cost.
Your scouts operate outside the boundaries of your (road)map, explore uncharted territories ahead of your cavalry, identify those hidden tracks and shortcuts and alert you when there’s danger or a major roadblock ahead.
Not every cavalry would be open to add a small unit of scouts to their ranks.
They might think those scouts are an indication that they aren’t fast enough or brave enough or aren’t cut for the job. They couldn’t be more wrong!
Your cavalry is amazing. They ARE the company! Without the cavalry there is no company.
Your challenge is to let the cavalry know that without the scouts they are sitting ducks waiting for a small startup to ambush them when and where they least expect. It’s up to you to clear the way so your team of scouts becomes an integrated part of your force.