Guest post by Dr Adrian Colquhoun, Founder strategik
WHY ARE YOU BUILDING THIS STARTUP? WHAT DOES IT DO?
Strategik are passionate about building information management solutions for the enterprise. We have two streams to our business, an Office 365 “Experts on Demand” service that helps business with all the routine issues they encounter in the Office 365 cloud and a “Solutions Practice” that designs and builds innovative information management solutions for SharePoint 2013 and Office 365.
WHAT DOES A PRODUCT MARKETING TEAM NEED TO UNDERSTAND FROM ENGINEERING ABOUT HOW TO SELL THE PRODUCT?
The world has changed. Old school sales and marketing techniques just don’t cut it. It’s not about huge day rates, coffee with mates, charging a fortune to stand up servers. All that is gone. With Office 365 you sign up, turn it on and start playing.
The customer conversation must be about delivering business value from day one. Office 365 solutions are not sold to the IT department, but direct to the business users who have a problem, be that project management, quality control, compliance or any other business scenario that needs a collaborative, information centric solution.
Every problem appears different, but in reality we find many common themes in every solution we build. Customers don’t want to pay huge sums to build application “plumbing”, nor should they. That’s why at strategik we have wrapped all that “plumbing” into our Core Framework. We’ve made open source, so we give that away for free.
Beyond that, our Solution Accelerator is a set innovative of shared components that we reuse in all solutions we build. That’s our secret sauce, we continually co-develop that with our customers and everyone shares in the results.
So finally there is our customer’s particular business problem to be solved. All the work we have done before allows us to focus in on their problem and create a custom solution, quickly, efficiently with a minimum amount of code. At strategik’s, our customers receive powerful information management solutions while only paying for the customizations they really need.
WHAT IMPACT OR LEGACY DO YOU HOPE TO MAKE IN THE MARKET AND IN THE BUSINESS WORLD?
We hope to transform the way businesses think about their unstructured information – its emails, documents, conversations, the interactions of its staff. We see information as the glue that holds organizations together. We have invented InfoCounting, the ability to automatically and continually create visualizations and valuations for the information asset of the organization. We are building InfoCounting enabled solutions directly into the Office 365 tools that business uses every day. Our aim is that InfoCounting will become the defacto standard for valuing information in the future.
HOW DO YOU WORK WITH INVESTORS, OR DO YOU CURRENTLY USE ANY OUTSIDE MONEY AT ALL?
I think it’s far more important for a start up to focus on customers than investors. That way you focus on building things that add value from day one. It teaches you discipline and you learn more about what it takes to really run a business. Technology startups aren’t just about tech, they are about accounts, cash flow, sales, marketing, strategy and execution.
I have had three successful startups over the past 8 years. They have all bootstrapped themselves and been profitable from day one. It’s tough at the start, but then I guess I’m just old fashioned. I find investors are a bit of catch 22, they only want to put their money in when you don’t need it, after the innovation is done and the risks have been taken.
I’ve learnt a lot during my time in business, both with business partners and investors. There are a lot of “wannabes” out there and I am done working with idiots. That’s not to say we wouldn’t love to hear from investors that “get it”, we could go faster, but we always have along hard look at what people can bring to the party before we get into bed with them. Just having money is not enough.
WHY WOULD AN ENTREPENUER TURN TO MICROSOFT FOR HELP IN BUILDING SCALE, A TEAM, OR USING SOFTWARE?
I’ve been building enterprise software on the Microsoft stack for the past 20 years. To go anyway else would be like cutting my off my right arm. But seriously, a couple of years ago I could have given it all up. I even flirted with the idea of running an Amazon start up. But then Steve retired, Satya turned up and everything is cool again.
Our business is riding the wave of innovation that has been unleashed in Office 365 and Windows Azure. Cloud first, mobile first – we get it. We see the potential to create transformational information management solutions for the enterprise we could not have even dreamed of a few years ago – and it’s all so open, everything is being shared, we all feel part of the journey.
I’ve been in IT since before the internet was invented and I remember when everyone wondered “will this take” off? I recall conversations with CEO’s along the lines of “should be have a website”. I have seen a lot of things come and go in my time and I am genuinely excited about where I see Microsoft going today. To answer the question succinctly, if you are a serious technology entrepreneur and you are not building your startup on Microsoft’s vision of the future you need to ask yourself – why not?