Partner with Someone who is more of a Teacher than a Manager
By Brian Rowe, Founder & CEO, Perceivant
As CEO of Perceivant, a fast-growing data analytics SaaS, I have a few key pieces of advice for other technology leaders, “Three strategies that will help you to be a successful leader and manager in today’s evolving IT world are, to not overvalue technology, have a plan B, and find the right partners.
It’s easy to get excited about emerging technologies and invest a lot of time and money in the newest software. When building your business, you need to think about more than software and technology.
I see organizations of all sizes try to build and automate too many features early on because they think they need all the technology in place to get started. This often leads to building the wrong thing and costs more to change later. It also creates delays and extra expense. There is too much software out there that fails to deliver.”
I believe the easiest way to ensure you are not wasting valuable resources are to build things in the simplest and most minimal way. If it starts to get too complicated, you need to stop and ask yourself, ‘Is there an easier way?
Next, it’s important to plan to start over. The world of emerging technologies is changing rapidly, and you need to be prepared to change with it. Having a back-up plan is crucial. If serious problems emerge, you need the flexibility to implement a plan B, and the ability to move on decisively without looking back.
It’s necessary to adopt a “sunk-cost” mentality. No matter how much time and energy has been invested, be prepared to completely disregard the first version. You need a plan B that refocuses your energy on the critical path, without yielding to the temptation to over-engineer what’s not working.
Soliciting as much feedback as possible from early adopters is critical. Then, build something that will scale to your dreams. In order to validate the market and confirm the company’s direction, Perceivant built an MVP to put in front of prospects and potential customers early on.
Early on we debated a lot about the user interface and how we expected business users to navigate the system. Should we emulate an existing paradigm that people are familiar with or create something new and more intuitive? After watching users in the system, we rewrote the front-end almost entirely.
My final piece of advice is to partner with innovators who lead by example. In the case of a software startup, it’s important to have founders who are technical, who can write code and who can teach developers. According to Rowe, “You are more likely to have a successful team when you partner with someone who is more of a teacher than a manager.”
In the early stages of software development, you need a fast turnaround between conversations with early adopters and the software you deliver. A manager at this stage of the game will only add cost and delays.
In Rowe’s case, partnering with a co-founder who’s also a developer has been instrumental in building a lean and effective team, as well as in creating the fastest analytics platform on the market. Perceivant’s co-founder wrote most of the code for the company’s first proof of concept.
“We were trying to do something that no one had ever done before, and the technical challenges required a person who clearly understood the problem we were trying to solve and believed in the technology,” says Rowe. “According to Google, what we were doing wasn’t possible. We needed someone who believed it could be done.”
Perceivant’s innovative, cloud-based data analytics platform is changing the way companies view and use their data. Perceivant enables companies of any size to explore and understand large data sets in a faster, easier and more cost-effective way. Perceivant was named Indianapolis’ 2015 Company to Watch. The company recently acquired Bearface Technologies, a content delivery application that is revolutionizing how students learn and teachers teach.