Skip to main content

Funding + Contractors = Unrealistic Expectations = Cutting Corners?

Working with several startups over the last couple years, I’ve noticed a recurring theme with well-funded companies using third-party contractors – that is, many sacrifice quality in favor of urgency to deliver a more feature-rich product oftentimes by cutting corners.

That is, startups aim for seemingly arbitrary dates to deliver a product, forgoing things like customer discovery or shifting responsibilities to contractors. In some cases, contractors have not worked in the startup environment or are bought into the business to make the best decisions.
  • I believe the “business” should define what the user flow (experience) should look like with input by a UI/ UX designer. Except in one project, the business shifted user flows to the UI/ UX designer. Being an outside resource without the experience of the business, the designer was left to insert his own vision. So when designs were up for approval, the business owners threw up all over them. Why? Because the designs didn’t match their vision.
  • An early-stage entrepreneur launched a new travel platform without testing the product with customers and gathering feedback for customer acquisition. His previous life in investment banking funded his startup’s six-figure development costs. However, when he launched, he had no answers to how to acquire customers in a highly competitive market. He ended up shutting down almost immediately.
Funding/ money is a funny thing – you want it, but without control, can set unrealistic expectations and take the scrappiness out of startups. You may expect quality to go up, but instead, efforts to ameliorate investors by hitting deadlines motivate the startup to cut corners and sacrifice quality; whereas in bootstrapped, lean startups, quality is tuned to critical elements, and growth occurs more organically.

These aren’t rules… but rather anecdotes of what I’ve seen.

What are your thoughts on how funding has affected startups and expectations? How would you implement some of the lean startup and scrappy methods in a well-funded startup? How else could startups use contractors more effectively?

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

You Make Time for What (and Who) Matters

I’ve always been a big proponent that you make time for the things and people that matter. Sounds simple, right? Then, why do so many not implement this better in their lives? Let me take a moment to recognize this more explicitly.
I touched on Laura Vanderkam’s TED Talk “How to Gain Control of Your Free Time” in last week’s post. In it, she shares a story of a woman who had a leak in her home. Coordinating with plumbers, and getting everything resolved, the woman estimated that it probably took seven hours of attention. That’s seven hours of “stuff” the woman hadn’t planned on doing. If you were to ask her (or most anyone) to find seven hours in the week before, she’d have told you, “heck, no, I don’t have seven hours. I’m busy!”
I was thinking of Laura’s talk in conjunction with Jacob Christensen’s How Will You Measure Your Life. Specifically, I’m aligning “making time” with Christensen’s Resources-Processes-Priorities framework. We make (process) time (resources) for the things th…

Leadership Take-Aways from Two of NCAA’s Most Successful Coaches

On my recent Delta flight, I read an interesting leadership article in Delta’s Sky magazine – the feature piece being an interview of two of the NCAA’s most successful coaches – Coach MikeKrzyzewski (Coach “K”) of Duke’s men’s basketball team and Coach Urban Meyer of Ohio State football with five and three national championships, respectively.
Given these two coaches’ storied careers, their leadership has incredible sustainability. Here are my take-aways from the article: Both coaches took leave of absences in their careers due to medical concerns. Their successes cultivated deeper motivations to win exacting significant physical, mental, social, and emotional tolls. After stepping away, however, each returned to coaching posts to continue winning ways, but implemented mechanisms and understanding to keep themselves in check. Take-away: To operate in peak form like their respective teams, leaders, too, need to ensure self-maintenance.The interviewer asked the coaches about social medi…

My Life-Defining Moment Happened When I Failed to Make Varsity in High School

Ever stop to think about who you are? What makes you tick and tock? How about what you truly enjoy and what you’re good at vs. not good at? Or what/ who has shaped you into the person you are today?
I’m at this stage of figuring out whether to continue independent consulting while iterating on ideas for the next startup or take on some full-time employment (consulting, product management, or otherwise). My recent post about my daily/ weekly schedule was an interesting exercise in stepping back and recognizing what I’m actually doing in a day, and made me really think at the macro level.
In one of my recent reflections, I thought about defining moments in my life. One of those watershed events that truly transformed me was my failure to make the Varsity soccer team in high school. I won’t rehash the whole story here – shared the story almost a year ago in my post titled “Getting Through Dark Moments and the Most Vulnerable Story I've Ever Told Publicly”. It’s this moment that I w…