Well, I’d start with the introduction of web 2.0 and the changes it brought in the fabric of internet as we know it. To show its true sense, I’d like you to read this post by Paul Graham. The social media would not have been possible without the key features of web 2.0. Thus, internet really became interconnected network and the massive hyper-linking and inter-dependency on APIs and open source codes began with the advent of web 2.0. The result of this interlinking of different sites is that now it is almost impossible for any new venture to not include services of other ventures, be it a newly famous startup or a massive giant like Google.
Thus, now that there are too many companies doing too many things and on top of that, these companies are sharing their services through their APIs, code snippets and widgets, it has amplified their reach in new markets across the globe in a way that was not even thought of before. This has become a part of the fabric of the new internet that we are familiar with. But, with this newly found way of relying on already existing services to escalate faster rather than developing everything in-house has some drawbacks as well, read this article by Gabriel Weinberg. He talks about half lives of API’s and how reliable it is use them. This article by Nick Bradbury points out the negatives of careless use of web APIs.
Thus, for any new venture, it has become important to first explore what is already being going on in the market and what can be done to make it better, using the freely available services of other ventures as much as possible and also to keep a track of changes that might happen in near future. Well, atleast every lean startup is working their way out in this fashion. This requires constant follow-up of events and news of what one is dealing with.
Any internet related company earlier had a developer base and a designer base who used to work in parallel. Now, because there is an additional need of looking after the other companies as well, apart from the self, the need has increased from designers and developers and has created a slot for someone who is in constant touch of the outside world and the company, someone who knows what exists in the market that can be used to power some feature of his company, someone who keeps everything in sync with the world. I call this person as an integrator. Basically, this guy is responsible for keeping everything in motion, while developers and designers are working on their fronts to make things work.
I find myself working on a similar level in my startup PhotoWalkr, thus, apart from the technical team and a total business team, there needs to be an integrator, who is a techno-business guy to keep things linked to each other both on intranet and internet level. Thus, there is no definite need of pure business managers in a early stage startup but yes, there should be someone who has to focus on things beyond the product development. Tony Wright, a startup blogger, says something similar in his post, just that he calls his “integrator” guy as “builder”. Also, I have spoken with tech-startup founders, some of them from BITS itself, who share similar views. One of them told that his job is to make sure that the developers and designers never get disturbed by all the non-technical crap involved in starting-up. This article from the archives of Ycombinator has some similar views. This article supports my reason further, when one starts exploring things, there is just an information overload.
The world is too big to know it all effectively and also come up with something to fill the gap along with handling the non-technical front as well. Here is a coding team, designing team, business team (not necessary in early stage startups) but still no one can fill the spot of that do-it-all integrator, someone who would show up and provide the working energy to everyone. But, yes, as things move forward, roles get cliche`d and this is where MBA guys would take over.
I’ll keep sharing my thought process in this area, this is first of many posts i guess. keep watching this space, if u liked this post.