Technopreneurship - The Team

There is a 12th-century German proverb: “Don’t go near your prince unless he calls for you twice.” You go ahead and do things. You do not ask for permission because that implies the other can say no. Yes, you risk ending up in jail. You have to take that risk.

As a technopreneur, in order to minimise the risk of ending up in jail it is important to identify your own and the other team members’ strengths and weaknesses.

Everyone on the team has a different role to play in a start-up environment and knowing each person’s strengths and weaknesses in advance is useful. This will allow the founders to map out their future roles in the organisation. A well rounded team should include a mix of people and skills.

Every technopreneurial organisation needs sales and business development, technology development and support, administration (accounting, payroll and so on), so ideally each start-up should have at least three persons to take care of these and manage potential growth.

Whether they are all working full time depends on what needs to be done and when.

As the business expands, more people will be recruited in these three areas and having qualified potential team members makes recruiting the right people easier and quicker. As the company expands, these functions become more complicated and whenever possible certain peripheral activities should be outsourced to allow the team to concentrate on their core competencies.

“To justify one’s existence

One needs to be able to continue providing value.”

Chief Executive Officer

In every organisation, there is someone who goes by the title of CEO, president or managing director. This leader is usually someone with a background in sales and marketing. He is the Graphic Interface Unit (GUI) to the world and provides feedback and directions to the entire team.

The CEO Gathered feedback and dated and various sources. He gauges feedback, be it from employees, customers and partners, processes this information and lays down his next course of action to the entire team. His promise is victory and he assures the team of their greatness in the actions that are being undertaken.

He stresses the core values of success, persistence, vision and or collective intellectual pool of resources.

The CEO ensures the welfare of the entire team. He is responsible for overseeing the entire management of the venture including technical, administrative and sales. His main tool is the business plan. This is largely his work. The plan outlines the strategies for product development, sales launch, marketing, value propositioning, and investors and their potential exit. He finds the money. He pitches to the angels, then venture capitalist for start-up and later rounds of financing.

Once capital is raised, he is responsible for providing report and gives feedback to investors on the progress of their venture because most investors like to know the status of their investments. It is largely the responsibility of the CEO to ensure that the corporate goals and milestones are met. His financial and personal interests comes last.

He is a person of good and clean character. His leadership is not in the title he holds but in the actions he undertakes. He is a strong person whose vision is no part of his religion. He has a moral responsibility to protect the interest of the company at all times, then the interest of the employees and team members, finally the interest of the shareholders.

For all the above, the CEO is the most rewarded individual in any organization.

For the technopreneur who lacks such qualities to manage the venture, he should look for someone who has these qualities and shares with him his vision. It is then largely the responsibility of this person to decide whether the project is feasible. He usually starts by asking questions on the pitfalls and potential gaps and how they could be filled. He looks for a strong passion among other team members in their answers. If he signs on, the tecnopreneur will have to cede the CEO function to him.

Chief Technology Officer

The second most important person in the technology set up is the technology man. Technology development can be a very costly affair and if the wrong project manager is in charge, the whole venture can fail. He is in charge of the entire technology team and his leader ship is often visible in his intellect and industry knowledge. He is aware of technological trends, makes key product recommendations, and based on feedback from all sides, he implements.

The CTO works very closely with the CEO and gives him input on what strategy the company should take. Based on this and the CEO's feedback on market demands, they both decide which direction to take.

It is his responsibility to make technical purchase to customers, investors, and potential partners. The CEO brings in the connections and makes the sales pitch, while the CTO supports him with the technical bits and bytes. It is the CTO who is responsible for ensuring that the deadlines are met.

The CTO is someone who gained his experience in a larger organization by managing product development teams. He has a strong educational and technical foundation and he imports this to his team daily. He inspires the technical team with his creativity and enthusiasm about the product that is under development. He leads by example and not command.

He teaches the team new development techniques. He sketches the possible future industry directions and how the team should adapt to those changes. Even though this information is technical nature, his input ensures that products can be developed which are scalable, robust and innovative in nature.

He also evaluates competitors' solutions, looking for their technical strengths and weaknesses and comparing them with his solutions. This way he is able to guage and make better product decisions. His source of information is technical magazines and he is a hacker in his own right. He carries out feasible studies and makes software development plans or technical documentations.

If a project is feasible, the CTO will decide if it should be developed in-house or outsourced. If it is the latter, who to award the project to will be a matter for consideration. The technical documentations will help him make these decisions with ease.

If a project is done in-house, the CTO looks for ready components or modules built by someone else so that rewriting of code or reinventing the wheel does not occur.

He breaks up the development among separate teams, allowing for modular development. He outlines to the team leaders his directions and development plans, giving each team scopes, deadlines and final stage integration plans so that the product can be in sync and put together for final presentation to the market.

The CTO usually commands the second greatest compensation plan in the organization. Sometimes his compensation package is comparable to that of the CEO.

Chief Financial Officer

The third most important person in an organization is the CFO. He is the banker, the treasurer and the accounts man. Although these rules are often administrative in nature they are of utmost importance as they keep the company humming along.

The CFO is a realistic person and sometimes lacks the enthusiasm of a CEO or a CTO. He guides the CEO and CTO through the stock market.

In the New Economy, the key decision-maker is the stock market even though the start-up may not be listed. Its up turn spurs spending and its downturns cuts spending. It is the key because of how a particular sector is performing, its reactions give information on the consumer expectation, demand and potential.

It is the stock market that is largely responsible for supplying the capital to start-ups and technological advances. Angels and venture capitalists will not invest in a start-up unless they are convinced that stock market investors like the idea behind the company. This means that without the market, there will be no innovation. The CFO understands this very well.

On the other hand the stock market is demanding and its threshold expectations change over time. Once upon a time, a company her to be profitable before investors put in money. At the height of the bubble, capital could be accessed over a concept. Then came the requirements that’s only a company with a million dollars in revenue could tap the market for additional funds for growth. The wheel has turned and market investors want to see profitability. It is this constant changes in demand and expectation that give any organization and its market value and it is the CFO’s role to justify this.

He knows that the market wants to see scalable projects with a huge growth potential. He understands that if a company is profitable but not scalable enough then there is no need to access outside capital.

His interest is in growth and he has to ensure that the investors are satisfied with corporate performance, which are in line with promise milestones and on the path to the promised exit strategies. He looks for these exits for the investors and at the same time ensures the day-to-day viability of the business.

He is responsible for accounts and payments from customers, ensuring the checks to keep on coming in on time and cash flow is managed so that the business can grow. The CFO is often the first to know if the company is in trouble or derails from its goals. He shares this information with the CEO and works with him on how to fine-tune and correct weaknesses.

The CFO is largely responsible for cooperate budgets and spending. He updates, monitors and analyzes the budget as frequently as possible. He passes on the relevant information so that the team members or departments can take the appropriate action.

He supports the CEO during pitches to avoid potential investors and merchant bankers, negotiating valuations, capital requirements and outlining growth strategies. The CFO is usually an ex-banker, financial analysis, accountant or a treasurer.

In a start-up, he is usually involved in everything except sales and technical issues. He is the administrator. So when the CEO is absent, he handles the day-to-day operational issues. Similarly when the business grows but is not profitable enough to justify hiring a chief operating officer or general manager, the CFO usually takes on this role.

Usually a CFO is not required until such time that the product or solution is ready and sales are being made. In fact, for small organizations (less than 15 members), a full-time CFO can be a financial burden in the start up phase but once larger growth plans are outlined, a full-time CFO should be brought in because his contribution can make a lot of difference.

In conclusion, these are the three key people in a technopreneurial organization. Each of them are leaders in their own right. As the company grows, the CEO may hire more people to take charge of the various divisions in the company. Similarly, the CTO and CFO build their own hierarchy. Their tasks will be delegated to subordinates. Delegation allows the staff to use and development their skills and knowledge to their fullest potential. At the same time, it gives senior management time to consider new tasks to complete, which will help the company meet its goals. If the tasks are properly delegated, a great business team will be born and the success of organization is ensured.

Chapter 10 The Team >>> 

Technopreneurship Development - A Role for Society in Technopreneurship Development, a chapter written in 2002, explains the creative destructive forces at work in practically every aspect of human life and the reasoning for the massive confusion, leading up to revolutions, lack of employment opportunities and governments fiscal deficits. Technology is usually blamed for making the world a smaller place, the writing was on the wall since the late nineties, this chapter refreshes our memories.

Technopreneurship - The Successful Entrepreneur in the New Economy - Daniel Mankani. Published 2003. Pearson Education Asia - All rights, copyright reserved Daniel Mankani { ISBN0-13-046545-3 }

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