Tuesday Oct 29, 2013 by Mike Alden - CEO, ViewDo Labs
I now understand why certain people become serial entrepreneurs. In fact, I’m beginning to see that I may fall into the same wonderful trap.
I love startups – the energy, the focus, the agility demonstrated each and every day to keep driving forward, the persistent pursuit of success paired with the thrill, fear and stress.
My last start up, Axceler, was just acquired this past August. Over five years, we had grown from a handfull of employees to one of the largest SharePoint ISVs with the leading product for SharePoint Administration. Following this great ride, I now have a respect for the acquisition process, the ups and downs of “the deal,” the aftermath and the new beginning.
This new beginning, the creation of ViewDo Labs, happened overnight – literally. ViewDo Labs plays in one of the most highly disruptive and high growth tech categories – enterprise social networks (ESNs). ESNs are at the intersection of the cloud, BYOD, consumerization of IT, and big data; enterprise internal collaboration platforms like Yammer, Chatter, Jive, Huddle, and Tibbr are experiencing viral growth.
The momentum in the space has certainly helped with the launch, but there were some assets that we had lined up, and others we still don’t have, but are working to check off the list as soon as possible.
What we had:
We are starting with some money in the bank – always a good thing – and some great people from Axceler including the management team, a group of individuals who bring passion and unique experiences that combine to create magic. We have a head start – our strategy was conceived a little over a year ago, the product built over the past ten months, and it became generally available this week. It goes to show how quickly companies can be built – in a matter of days we had a website and all the trimmings of a small enterprise including business cards, a CRM, a blog.
What we still need:
What we don’t have is brand recognition or credibility in the space. At Axceler, if we tweeted about something it was quickly re-tweeted by an influencer; if we had a party – it was overflowing with guests; if we sent an email – we received incredible open and response rates. We don’t have that luxury as a brand new entity, but know that we have to build it and that will take some time. Fortunately, we are building on a solid and proven foundation, the same DNA that made Axceler great will make ViewDo Labs great, and we hope in half the time.
Building brand recognition is a top priority, but in order for our brand to be successful, our culture needs to complement our goals. Starting a new company, we have the gift of taking what was awesome about the pre-existing culture – the need for speed, the attention to customers, the “one team” philosophy – while evolving it to be even greater. It has never been more important, for me, to set the foundation for this culture – now, in the beginning – to avoid missteps in the future. One thing we get to do all over again is create a place and an atmosphere that empowers our employees, engages with our customers, and accepts only excellence. At the end of the day, that is what will be the most valuable asset we bring to our own collective experience and our community.
Speaking of community – although some might argue, Silicon Valley is not the only place where startup cultures thrive. Startups are booming in Boston and its surrounding neighborhoods from Cambridge to Waltham and even to Woburn. Boston is a vibrant tech mecca with a strong history and foundation for supporting tech startups. We have a rich talent pool, although I will admit it is a highly competitive market to hire, and access to venture capital and private equity as we grow.
Is ViewDo Labs going to be a better startup experience than Axceler? Well, it’s going to be different. Ask any Red Sox fan – is winning one World Series better than winning two? The real joy is in the game.