OnStartups

How Many Startup Employees Does It Take To Change A Light Bulb?

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Apologies to all my regular readers that are used to more “serious” blog writing.  I’m on vacation this week and not feeling in a particularly serious mood.  We’ll return to our regularly scheduled program next week.

Meanwhile, hope you enjoy this.  

How Many Startup Employees Does It Take Change A Light Bulb?
 
It depends on the type of startup employee.  Here are some possible responses:

Business Type:  We looked at the service market for changing light bulbs as a possible go-to-market strategy.  But, we determined that the necessary gross margins to sustain our business and demonstrate an attractive return for our investors did not exist in this market.  We plan to revisit this opportunity at some later date.

Project Manager Type:  We’re still working on the alpha version of the software which doesn’t support changing light bulbs yet.  This is scheduled for beta build B4, codename “Phoenix”.

Developer Type:  Well, it should only take one, but our founder insisted on using Python instead of Ruby On Rails to build the product and so it’s going to take four people to add the “change a light bulb” feature.  Wait, wait, I found this new open source project called “Python on Prayers” which lets the two environments interoperate.  I think I can bang out the code this weekend.  You go now. (starts typing away at keyboard).

Marketing Type:  Like any significant technological change, of which changing a light bulb is one manifestation, it takes the wisdom of crowds to actually address the needs of the long tail.  The minimum crowd required is the set of early-adopters of technological change as represented by the current list of TechCrunch subscribers.

Sales Type (written on Blackberry):  Shit!  I told those moronic software engineers to focus on the “flush the toilet” feature.  I’ve got 5 customers that are ready to buy NOW if we can just get that freakin’ feature added.  Forget the stupid “change a light bulb” thing.  Nobody cares.  We need “flush the toilet” yesterday! 

Finance Type:  Well, looking at our fully burdened FTE (full time employee) costs, we can afford about 2.7 FTEs to get the light bulb changed.  We’d also need to make sure that the contract explicitly states that all consulting services in the scope of the CALB project are non-refundable so we can recognize the revenue in Q2 in term of GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles).

Software Architect Type:  Whoa, whoa, whoa!  Hold your horses.  Before you even start to think about changing a light bulb, we need to make sure we’ve got a scalable architecture.  First step is to pick a relational database that supports transactions and rollback/commits.  The last thing we need is for a light bulb to almost be changed.  It should either be changed or not be changed.  That’s just the beginning.  Then we’ve got to figure out

Strategy Type:  Forget the light bulb.  We need to stop skating to where the puck is, and skate to where the puck is going to be.  In five years, there will be no light bulbs to change.  I’m going on an executive retreat next week and plan to return with a vision statement that articulates how we will leverage our core competencies to erect a formidable barrier to entry in the $1 billion market for LaaS (Light As A Service).