It’s not a rodeo, cowboy

The market for something to believe in is infinite. I haven’t seen any better evidence of this being true, than during yesterday’s finale of Startup Weekend Warsaw. The team with the most daring, creative, inspiring idea for a project won by a landslide and swept away half of the numerous prizes. Business played second-string.

Some people were clearly dissatisfied with the outcome:

Perhaps rightly so, perhaps not, but the truth is that an event of this type isn’t about building a business. You can’t build anything of quality and value in a 48-hour, caffeine-laden, sleep deprived, headlong running weekend. You are constantly distracted, overworked, haunted by the ever closer deadline, so as a result you cut corners – lots of them, just to be able to show something, anything in the end.

You can achieve two and only two things, really:

  1. Meet plenty of quality people – be that your team mates, which you will be testing out right there on the spot, or mentors and judges, who are also potential investors, clients and overall good business connections.
  2. Brainstorm and iterate over numerous variations of your idea – remembering that your expectations of the market, customers and value of your product are likely to be amiss at least the first couple of times. You’ll do that with the help of mentors, people with 10, 20+ years of business experience, whose time you normally wouldn’t be able to afford.

Running a business requires True Grit. Precisely the like of sheriffs in the old days of the Wild West. Staying atop an angry bull for 8 seconds will make the crowds cheer, but how about trying to catch that bull when he’s out in the wild? And what if the bull doesn’t care? “Being in business means fighting obstacles, one after another, EVERY SINGLE DAY” (via @ForPiter) is the smartest thing I heard over the last weekend and it’s something that all participants will eventually learn, if not from others’, then from their own experience.

I saw that kind of persistence in Justyna Goławska of TradycyjneJedzenie.pl and Przemek Białokozłowicz of CAREgiver who pursued their projects despite having little popularity among the crowds. I raise my glass (of coffee, for now) to the underdogs.

“Beta” is here to stay

Every web application is in “beta” these days. It’s these pesky developers excusing buggy software by saying “we’re working on it, so expect a few quirks”. Can’t they deliver quality? Not really, folks, sorry. Business is too quick nowadays.

The appeal of web applications is their ease of maintenance. No need to install or upgrade locally. Launch your web browser, type in the web address and you’re already using the newest version. For business units this means they can keep rolling out tweaks and new features daily. Obviously they shouldn’t because things take time to develop and test properly. But if they’re not quick enough, competition will be, will outrun them and put them out of business.

So we, the IT people, are at war now with Business. We demand time to ensure quality, they demand speedy development and deployment. And since business pays, they win, we submit and can only beg customers for forgiveness by calling our software “beta”.