I am tech product guy with an OpenSource-Hacker-background. I do believe that a business rises and falls with the product and its quality. With this background I am most fond of product teams of engineering people. We speak the same language and get along great. But having gone through a few of those startup teams, getting along great, speaking the same language is not what makes them successful. It is actually quite the opposite: it is the diversity that makes you a great team.

What I mean is that in order to build a successful business it is not enough to just code something away with your buddies. The Investor, who comes to take over all other things and just wants you to focus on building a great product, is a myth (at least for us in Europe), it simply doesn’t exist. So when investors say, they are looking for a great team, they clearly don’t mean that kind of team. And it wasn’t until I saw a super basics business talk (unfortunately I can’t find it any more) before I realised what we did wrong in the teams I was involved in so far. In the talk it said: To build a business you need three people; someone building it, someone selling it and someone collecting the money. Or as we would see it today: product, marketing and accounting/operation.

But what the talk focusses on is that you need all of those. If you have a product but no one selling it, no one will buy it. An experience I had like so many other techies out there. I had my fair share of product-driven (not to say “product-only”) teams and though it was a great experience and we accomplished a lot, we also failed as a business. As a team we were getting along great, but we were missing basic things, just because we couldn’t find anyone, who was communicating them similar to us but for marketing. So we ended up being without someone to sell the great products we built and while Silicon Valley tells us this is fine, it actually isn’t.

I believe that this might simply doesn’t exist; someone acting and communicating like a product person but doing marketing. There are very different cultures and believe systems behind marketing and product people. And to some degree those collide and always will. I don’t think I’ll ever find a marketing guy or gal, who wants to sell the products I am building and agrees on all parts of how I build them. I call them product guys. But my next team will definitely have some more people with a marketing background, because without marketing there is not selling any product in internet business. There just is no store that people just walk in and see what you have to offer and that way learn your product is superior. Without marketing people won’t know you even exist let alone find your website.

As a team, we will struggle and fight because we don’t speak the same language and don’t always agree on the goals and values. And yes, there will be compromises on the product to make it easier to sell. My next team will not just be put together because those are fun people to work with, I choose to work with people where that is not the case. My next team will be uncomfortable for us, by choice. But hopefully we have at least a shot in getting a business off the ground.

Update: I replaced the term “product guy” with a “tech product guy with an OpenSource-Hacker-background” as the other term was to general and caused misunderstandings of who I am talking about. If you know what I am talking about and think you have a more appropriate term, let me know, as I still feel this is not really nailing it.

{.small} BTW. I am still looking for smart online-marketing people to partner up with. I indeed do have some products I need help get into the market, so, if you are interested, let me know.