Pop the bubble

First of all, if you’re a tech entrepreneur, and your not reading Mark Suster, you’re doing it wrong. Subscribe to his blog, follow him on Twitter, and generally seek ye knowledge from him.

Now to my point: pop the bubble. If you’re a tech entrepreneur, and you think everyone else is a tech entrepreneur, you’re doomed to failure.  To help me illustrate my point, ask yourself the following three questions.

  1. What percentage of the U.S. – let alone the world – can write code (PHP, Ruby, Java, JavaScript, etc.) or design a computer network?  There’s the decimal, and then there’s several zeroes until you get to a digit, and that’s a percentage, so it’s freaking tiny.
  2. Are you the “computer guy/gal” in your family? Ever wonder why? Because you’re the only one in your family who knows this stuff.
  3. When was the last time you worked in “corporate America”?  You know, where there are cubicles and meetings and paperwork and regular hours and expense reports and vacation request forms and upgrade plans?  These concepts, at least some of them, are pretty foreign to the tech entrepreneur, especially those tech entrepreneurs under the age of 30.

So why am I asking you to be asking yourself this stuff? For that answer, back to Mark Suster and this blog post.  Mark hits the nail on the head for design, but I’ll add to that about processes and gear and culture. Corporate America lags way behind “startup America”, and for good reasons, but they still lag behind, and we have to design, plan, and build for that lag.  We can’t build software that only works with Chrome v30.0.1599.69 m (my current beta version). It might work for scalability in 2 years, but it won’t work today.

Are you sitting down? You should, just in case this rocks your world like it does mine every time I see this stat or one generally like it. Here goes: most of corporate America still uses IE. There. I said it.  Wander through Atlanta Tech Village or ATDC, and you’ll rarely, if ever, see an instance of IE, unless the savvy tech entrepreneur is testing for clients to make sure their software works in IE. These people are not your customers.

My point is, we play in a bubble, and you cannot build software products that scale for the users in our bubble. You have to build for what your customers are using and are going to use next year and the year after that. So pop the bubble, get out and find out what your prospects and customers are using.

Don’t be surprised if it’s a previous version of IE on a previous version of Windows.

What do you think?