Ten reasons why a mobile-startup is like a garage-band

Not THE Garage Band by Apple but all the garage-bands I played in the 70′s.  

During my ‘missing years’ I played in a lot of rock-bands.  We all talked about what life would be like when we ‘made it’, meaning signing a BIG record contract.   If you measure success by how many friends I had, I did pretty good.  If you measure success by how much money I made, well…

Pretty much the same goes today for technical start-ups, minus the fame.  A lot of people LOVE to be in a start-up, and many even think that getting VC-money means that they ‘made it’.  Well, the roles may have changed, but it’s the same-old, same-old.  Let me try to explain:

  1. The Lead Guitarist – Self-trained and plays by ear.  This is your designer, the person who thinks they’re the rock-star and doesn’t need anyone else.  Are they in for a surprise!
  2. The Drummer – This is your cloud architect.  Brilliant technologist, plays all the riffs but can’t keep a steady beat!  More interested in practicing his thirteen-minute drum solo.  Drum solo?  This isn’t 1972, dude!
  3. The Rhythm Guitarist – Trained by listening to Allman Brothers.  Great backend systems programmer who knows how to create a fast-performing server/database implementation.  Solid, but not very creative.
  4. The Keyboardist – ‘Classically-trained’, solid performing programmer who tries to hold everything together.  Gets distracted easily but can be counted on to deliver.
  5. The Lead Singer – He/She is your marketing person.  Overly optimistic with a big ego, but is willing to push everyone else to success.  Or else!
  6. The Brass Section – No one knows what they do or how they do it, but they’re fun to have around and they’re awesome at delivering key integration services.
  7. The Bass-Player – How do you get a bass-player off your porch?  Pay him for the pizza!  ’nuff said.  Every start-up has a bass-player!
  8. The Manager – This is your angel-investor person who tells you that you’re going to be rich, you just need to work harder.  If that’s the case, why is he driving the BMW and you the VW?
  9. The Recording Technician – QA and Operations.  They hate you!  But they’re necessary to make sure that your performance is superb.
  10. The Songs – ahhh, finally, these are the Apps!  They are the inspiration, the result of every muse you have ever mused.  No matter how many people, no matter how much the stress, the apps are what you strive for.  These creations will make you happy, no matter how much off the top the app-stores take from you.   Because whether you’re writing songs or apps, the app-stores always takes their share.  Sigh.

Enough silliness.  Whether you’re in a rock-band or a technology start-up, it all comes down to RELATIONSHIPS.  You better understand how it is to lead a team of developers or musicians, because they’re all really the same.

When we at C-PoWeR evaluate start-up companies, those relationships are at the top of our priority list to evaluate.  Because there are very few solo-singer-songwriters out there.  And if there are, they don’t need VC help.

… and my joke about bass-players?   Here’s one more:

A rock-band is playing a concert.  As they’re playing the lead singer is thinking “Wow, I’m a rock-star, all the girls out there want to be with me, I’m going to meet a beautiful girl and get married”.  The lead-guitarist is thinking “This is the greatest thing in the world!  I’m going to buy my parents a big house to thank them for their support”.  The drummer is thinking “Fantastic, I’m going to use my fame to promote peace around the world”.  The keyboard-player is thinking “I can’t wait to use my celebrity to write my own musical that everyone will sing for years to come”.  The bass-playing is thinking “one-two-three-four, one-two-three-four”…

Rock on!

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About Paul Czarnik
Paul the former CTO of Compuware, a venture-technologist and programmer. His hands-on experience and technical diligence model help with M&A activities and incubator/startups. Contact him at @PaulCzrnk to chat about IT Transformation (even though he hates that word), agile delivery, lean startup methodologies or music.

Paul serves on the boards of, iRule, the Motown Museum and the Admission/Retention Committee for Wayne State University.