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Working with Startups

It has been over eighteen months since Vipra Technology was born to help small-to-medium sized companies and startups realise their dreams! We caught up with him to chat about how we are helping startups.

So, Jitesh, why did you choose to focus on startups?

Well, to put things into perspective, there are around 300 million people who are trying to start 150million businesses globally. Just in the UK, the number of startups is growing at 10+ a year. So now, out of the 150m businesses globally, 50 million go on to succeed. That is some 100m potential businesses that did not make it. It is fascinating to explore why so many businesses do not make it, which is around two-thirds. And what is the secret to the success of those that do?

Reportedly, there are about 300 million people who are trying to start 150 million businesses worldwide. One-third of that number are to be launched, and there are about 50 million new businesses each year, which leads to 137,000 startups created per day (Constantinides, Mar 2020).

In the UK alone, the number of startups increased by 16% in one quarter in 2020, according to companies house (Weston, 2020).

What is your thinking on why so many startups do not make it?

Having worked with startups for the past three years, it is no surprise that 9 in 10 fail. The real challenge in realising their dream is execution. Citing one of my professors, “Ideas are cheap, execution is everything”, and in that wisdom lies the crux of the problem.

What is execution to a startup – it is about clearly identifying the problem, validating it, then coming up with a product or solution with the correct product/market fit. If they get past this stage, then coming up with the product is immensely difficult as the founding team often does not have the skill needed to execute. More often than not, this will involve some sort of technology involvement. Data shows us that 60% of new ventures fail due to problems with the team (Mol, Mar 2019).

So, in short, it is all about execution; the execution comes down to the team – the team with the right skills to enable execution.  Without the team with the right skills, execution will surely fail.

What do you think are the “right skills”?

There is almost always a technology angle to a startup now, so technical (or technology) skills are fundamental. Add to this business skills; this is all about how to develop and build a business. So these two are what I see as pretty key.

“… frequently referred to as the most important ones for the innovation success of a young firm: business skills and technical skills” (Murmann, Nov 2017).
Now, it is rare for the founding team to have both these skills on day one. Sometimes the founder(s) will come from a business background with a business idea and then search for a technical founder.  Sometimes the idea will start with technology, and the technical founders will onboard a business-related founder, someone who can help commercialise the idea.   Either way, there is a need to search for additional team members to complete the skill set required to succeed.

Do you tend to find startups have one over the other?

Over the last few years, I have found that founders and entrepreneurs tend to be from the business side; they have the idea and are searching for technical co-founders. With limited options available to solve the “technology skill gap” in the group, founders have started to look at technology partners to help bridge this gap.

However, this comes with its own pitfalls as the technology partners may not have the same passion and commitment as the founders, resulting in an inferior technology solution.

What are the common challenges you've come across when advising startups?

  • Having an idea, but lack of understanding of the product-market fit and the user research that needs to be conducted to underpin this
  • Understanding what the MVP (minimum viable product) looks like and how to build it
  • Lack of documentation of the technology stack and solution, which leads to under-appreciation of the effort and cost to build the product
  • Founders not aware of where the codebase and technology assets reside, leading to a knowledge gap and over-reliance on partners/vendors
  • Unable to adapt the codebase without massive lead times due to the changing nature of the startup and product

Why do you think these challenges arise?

The root cause of these challenges is the lack of a technical expert on the team that ensures the right technology decisions are made. Without the expertise, the startup will not mature and subsequently fail to scale up.

This is where Vipra Technology can help – by being your digital partner on your journey. Contact us to see what we can do for you!

Jitesh Halai

Jitesh Halai

A bit about me… An Indian born in Kenya, now living in London, UK. Husband, father of two amazing kids. Left the big corporate world to work as a digital transformation consultant, which took me down the path of starting my own business. Now working with an incredible team helping customers realise their dreams.

Director, Vipra Technology

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