In a recent conversation with a longtime programmer and startup veteran, he lamented how difficult all of the technology involved in startups can get. He finds it frustrating that so many interconnected technologies and details must come together to get even the simplest startup off the ground.
His point in this case was that the software, written in Ruby on Rails, the database structures, the database hardware, the ever-changing requirements for the software stack, the DNS updates, the Amazon AWS services and settings, the front-end design and implementation, not to mention even getting started on marketing – can be daunting.
It’s especially daunting when subtle implementation details change every few months as libraries, services, and APIs are updated. It is a full-time job to understand how any of these systems work, let alone to implement one and qualify it as a new product.
My part in this conversation was a retort that “I like that this is hard.” My reasoning is that if this were any easier, if the process of creating an idea and making a business out of it took any less resourcefulness and knowledge, then the whole prospect of doing a startup would get a heck of a lot harder: Because more people would be doing it.
I like that there are technical barriers, since they can be overcome. I like that it is hard to get a message out to a market, as it can be done if you know how. I like that there are relatively few people who can pull all of this together.
As a technology person, that makes actually doing startups and being successful all the easier. Nothing makes pulling the whole chain of dependencies in a startup more difficult than being confronted with an overcrowded market of competition when you get out there and try to sell your product.
When startups were even harder
To keep things in perspective, startups are easier now than they have ever been: Servers on demand (EC2, Heroku, Linode) and rapid development technologies (Rails, Django) make it possible to develop a custom-built online platform in a relatively short time.
I remember my first online startups back in the 1990s that were done in “Classic” ASP. These projects took many months to build, and required us to purchase physical hardware by the truckload. That was really hard. On balance I would say “the harder the better” on that front since technology problems are solvable in ways that a marketplace absolutely full of competitors doing exactly what you are doing will never be.
Rather than be brought down by your technical challenges, relish them as the gate that will keep at least some of the potential competition from sharing in the rewards waiting on the other side of getting your startup built.
Originally posted on Forbes blogs.