The D part of R&D


Photo by Unloveable

Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door

That's completely wrong. If there's one thing I've learnt over my career, it's that technical excellence is just a small part of a product's success. Distribution is probably the most underrated ingredient, followed by a revenue model, marketing, financing and just plain good timing.

I started off in the UK, working in companies that were packed with insanely smart and resourceful engineers. There's a wonderful tradition over there of celebrating scientists and inventors, everything from the Faraday Christmas Lectures to Dambusters. That creates a big pool of people who can build widgets.

What was missing was the ability to turn a widget into a product. Selling things is a lot less prestigious than inventing them, with all sorts of class overtones of gentlemen scientists and grubby tradesmen mixed in. As a result, most of my companies produced wonderful code, but meager revenues.

Here in the US, I've been able to learn from people versed in the dark arts of actually building a company, not just a piece of software. To be honest it's a lot harder, computers are far more predictable than a gang of primates, but it's also amazing when you step back and see it starting to work. Taking an idea and turning it into something that sustains itself, a living breathing business, that's rewarding as hell.

I'm may not be there yet, but I'm having a blast as I shoot for it.

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