Why did you choose to become a technopreneur and what challenges have you faced since you started Pitch6?
I think one of the big differences between being an entrepreneur and a technopreneur is the potential that the latter holds that doesn't exist for the former. It is of course possible to create global brick-and-mortar businesses but at no time in history have global companies been created at the speed that tech companies have. Consider that Facebook's market cap now dwarfs General Motors and Ford combined-both multinational automotive giants are more than 100 years old.
I'm not a techie and that's created a number of difficult challenges. I outsourced the first iteration of the app on 'Odesk' an online crowd sourcing platform that provides access to techies and other professions. The team said they'd have the app ready in six weeks. Nine months later they were still working on it. That was a painful lesson, both in terms of cost and time. Lots of other associated lessons stemmed from that incident. For example: a different set of programmers is not going to want to clean up someone else's messy code. That nine months worth of work was literally put in the bin.
Finding the right team was of course critical and I went through four different teams before finding the right group of techies to work with. Each team burns through time and sometimes cash too, but at least I learned, after my first experience, to cut my losses early.
On the flip side, I think being firstly a brick-and-mortar entrepreneur, I tend to look at the business model quite differently from typical technopreneurs. The app was designed as a free app but the monetisation model was clear from the beginning.
What advice would you give anyone who is looking to become a technopreneur today?
There's been a lot written on this subject, so I suppose my advice would be to read some of the insightful books by authors like Steve Blank (The Four Steps to the Epiphany), Eric Ries (The Lean Startup) and Tony Hsieh (Delivering Happiness).
One of the challenges technopreneurs face is that as a technopreneur, you have to be extremely passionate about what you do. You have to be able to push past the numerous nay-sayers you'll come across who tell you that what you're doing isn't going to work.
The problem, of course, is that often the idea really isn't a good one but the technopreneur's passion prevents him from seeing the obvious. This is a difficult line to walk so I believe there needs to be some sort of empirical evidence to confirm the proposition. Ries speaks of the 'minimum viable product' although one may not even need to go as far as that.
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