StartUps vs Established businesses

cheese rodentsEarlier this morning my daughter pulled some Cheddar Bunnies out of the cupboard for a trip with her friends to the beach. Unfortunately this started me thinking about my business experiences over that last few years. I made some friends with some young and really brilliant programmers. We used to refer to these snacks as ‘Cheese Rodents.’ Ok I came up with the name but it kind of stuck because it was quirky and forced people who head it to think for a moment about what it was. The company was rather large StartUp by the name of Etsy, and of course they had all kinds of snack and fresh fruit to keep you fueled up and productive.

Today it seems that everyone and their brother has a cool new market disrupting StartUp these days. What I find amusing about all of this is that when I started Olivent Technologies, llc in 2007 it was a startup only we never called it that. In fact for the last six years it has been one of the leanest startups I’ve ever encountered. Probably because it’s initial beginnings were for very different reasons than the business model it has evolved into.

Snacks are great and so is not having to suit up every day but once in a while like formal Fridays is nice

At this point in my life I have been a IT consultant for far longer than most people have been working and quite frankly I have grown tired of fixing other people’s problems.I have absolutely zero real ownership of the solution once the client has accepted it. They are free to take what i have done and destruct it as they see fit. Funnily enough they often times do despite my best efforts to educate them otherwise.

In fact I spend a great deal of my time educating my clients on how to manage there systems and make better IT decisions. I consider this one of my value ads. Perhaps it is my own fault for educating them well enough to feel so confident at trying ‘fix’ things even better in the first place. Honestly I do not think so for I tend to take great pride in my work and often feel that regardless of the situation I still feel that I own the solution. Therefore, when a client continually undermines something I’ve built for them I tend to take it personally. That is probably a bad thing and I should learn to let go better.

Not just any hands on CTO role in a LAMP stack based StartUp

corporate death podsWhich brings us back to StartUps, I really enjoy things like the open floor plan work environment which is absolutely awesome compared to the cubicle ridden floors (a.k.a. death pods) of some corporate environments that I’ve worked in. Honestly I have worked in some places where it was down right filthy but that’s not really the point. No matter how you slice it cubicles are awful and represent the antithesis to creativity. Shoving coders and creative types into cubicles is akin to killing your business. After all this isn’t the ’80s and Dilbert does not work here.

Obviously I am not cut out for a typical corporate environment anymore

Moving forward I have considered abandoning the whole consulting enterprise as I aspire to be part of something bigger. This brings me once again to what most people these days refer to as a StartUp. The problem for me is how do I reinvent my customer facing, consulting focused business acumen into something that is appropriate to a hands on CTO role in a LAMP stack based StartUp? I honestly have enough experience with PHP, MySql and Apache to lead just about any project to success. I do enjoy coding and even writing unit tests as well as deploying some APC, memcache and slapping a little varnish on for good measure, but I ask myself am I burned out on tech?

Perhaps should I consider stepping out of technology altogether and focused something related to social media. After all I do have a relatively strong and focused personal brand with an expertise garnered from years of social networking and marketing. Maybe a change of focus is what’s needed right now.

I think you begin to understand my conundrum.

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