Standing on the Shoulders of Giants
Many things are difficult for a young company.
I don’t need to enumerate on the many problems that come with not being established in the market yet, not having many people, processes, a brand, or money. Suffice to say that there are moments where we longingly look towards well-established companies who have left those early throes of chaos and insecurity behind them and are well settled in their ways.
But then, many things are very easy for a young company. Maybe as many things as are hard.
Right now, we live and breathe optimism, the rock-solid knowledge that it will all work out, that in time, customers will flock to our solution. The self-determination of running our own company and the conviction that we are making the world a better place with our product leads to an almost palpable sensation of potential and purpose. It is exhilarating.
I often say that I am glad that we are not the first ones on the market – not the first general purpose automation solution, not the first cloud platform, not the first software development team. The often-hailed first mover advantage is vastly overappreciated in my view.
Maybe it has to do with my personality, or maybe with the Germanic culture of quality: I am convinced that we are in a much better position to conquer the world with Cloudomation than those other solutions, those now well-established companies were when they were started developing heir products in the eighties, nineties, and noughties.
We have two distinct advantages: we know what their problems are, and we can build on a much more advanced technology stack.
Knowing What Their Problems Are
This is where my Germanic sense of quality sets in. I don’t just want to build a product, I don’t even want to build a good product. I want to build a robust, sensible, powerful, useful solution that really makes people’s lives easier.
And I know that this is much more about execution, planning, process, execution, stamina, endurance, execution, iterative improvements, patience, vision, and did I mention execution, than it is about innovation and inspiration.
We are inspired, of course we are, we are inspired by the vision of a product that we ourselves love to use, a product that we can rely on and be proud of.
We are innovative, of course we are, we invented our own Python runtime and keep making up bits and pieces that have not existed in this way before.
An both our inspiration and innovation are driven by a clear sense of purpose that borders on pragmatism: we needed to build a new Python runtime, because it was the best way to solve our problem. We did not start with the innovation and then went to look for a problem – we knew which problem we want to solve and became creative in order to solve it.
And this is what I think makes us different from many other start ups. We are driven by the desire to solve a problem. We generate ideas in order to do this.
We are not driven by an idea and solving problems in order to realise it.
Being in this position, with this perspective, makes it very valuable to see how others have tried to solve the same problem, and where they are failing. Now we can take their failures as learnings and do things differently from the start.
Building on an Advanced Technology Stack
I cannot thank the billions of people who came before us enough who have walked similar paths, and left us with so many things that make our paths so much easier.
This starts with writing (really useful, isn’t it?) and goes on to computer hardware (am I glad that I don’t have to invite that first) and ends at the shitload of open source tools and libraries that we use to kick-start our software product. Other companies had to spend twenty years developing their product to be able to support features we can now get with a simple “docker build” command.
It is unfair, it really is.
And it is amazing.
It took us a bit less than two years of part time development to build the first version of Cloudomation to a stage where it was useful, stable, and secure. It is a fairly complex product. It is an absolute luxury that we were able to do this.
Another aspect of starting late, let’s call it the dozenth-mover-advantage, is not just technology: it’s culture and processes as well. Such as agile software development. Nobody in our team ever believed that it was possible to do waterfall-style project planning. It was just not something we ever tried, having grown up already with the iterative and flexible way of agile development.
Thanks to everyone who came before us.
Sorry to those who are now several steps behind, tied down by their 80ies codebases and sluggish corporate cultures.
And beware to those who will come after us. The game is on! We are determined to make the most of the time you give us before you disrupt us out of the market.