Tech Transfer eNews Blog

Why successful tech start-ups often have two founders

By Jesse Schwartz
Published: February 12th, 2020

In his recent blog post, start-up mentor Martin Zwilling discusses why successful start-ups often have a pair of founders, rather than just one.

To Zwilling, a business founded on technology requires both business and technology expertise, and he finds it rare for one individual to possess enough of both. For a tech start-up to have a better chance of success, then, it would have an experienced entrepreneur paired with an experienced inventor, such as a university researcher.

“Unfortunately, most inventors I know tend to look for partners who are also technologists, perhaps because they feel more kinship with them, or they assume great products will lead to great businesses, without any real effort on the business side,” says Zwilling.

He cites fiver areas of company leadership where inventors often fall short, but which are critical to a start-up’s future prospects:

Driven by customer-centric view of needs, rather than technology. It is often just as difficult, and just as important, to understand what drives customers to buy as it is to create a technology that matches it. “In fact,” writes Zwilling, “many customers have an inherent fear of new technology and the complexity it often brings.”

Ability to raise money, manage it, and think in financial terms. A good entrepreneur starts by finding a need, then developing a product — not the other way around. They are concerned with the infrastructure needed to attract and support customers, such as finding investors, hiring employees, managing organization, manufacturing and delivery.

Skilled and motivated by building a multi-disciplined team. Great inventors are often lone technologists or scientists without the interest or skills to build and manage a business team. “They may fear team leadership as a burden,” says Zwilling, “or a potential dilution of their ownership. Certainly interfacing to the outside world may not be an inventor forte.”

Master of multi-platform communication and marketing. No matter how exciting a new technology is, it will not market itself. To get customer attention, it must be promoted on multiple platforms, including online, social media, and the proper industry and customer channels depending on market characteristics. As Zwilling puts it, “the old philosophy of ‘if we build it, they will come’ doesn’t work in today’s information society.”

Ability to spot new trends and willingness to take risks. The business world changes even faster than technology, and start-ups need to anticipate changes in their industries — and even drive them. “That means taking calculated risks with new business models, new customer segments, as well as new products and services,” says Zwilling.

Zwilling adds that entrepreneurs can learn things from inventors, too, such as remaining focused on product development rather than trying to attack too many market opportunities, or keeping track of new advancements in technology.

“Thus I recommend to every inventor and every entrepreneur that they take a hard look at their personal strengths and interests,” he concludes, “and not be hesitant to solicit a complementary partner who can make one-plus-one equal three.”

Source: Startup Professionals Musings

Posted under: Tech Transfer e-News

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