Pitchers and Hitters

I’m really enjoying this process!! And as I listen and observe the various pitches, one notion keeps coming up for me as an EVA.  Apart from the typical issues around market readiness and presenter credibility, etc…, I keep looking for evidence of credibility about the people making and designing these products.

This is software and from my experience in dealing with software development, the programmers, engineers and designers have a very influential role in the direction and outcome of a software venture.  Programming is a very intense and creative craft and the process of software development from idea through to completion is an incredibly complex process fraught with potential interpersonal issues, idea conflicts and misinterpretation.  Its a huge challenge to keep this process on track.   As a result, what you might be pitching  at one end of the business might not resemble what’s actually coming out the other end.   In the recombo interview, I got the feeling that they were still sorting out the influence of the engineers at the marketing end.  And in the Ingenia pitch, I had a red flag at the point where she glossed over the connection they’d made with a Thai software firm.  Who were they?  What was their track record.

So I see some useful questions going unanswered in these pitches.  Who is actually coding the software?  Are these designers and programmers any good?  What else have they done?  Are they greenhorns?  Who is ultimately hitting the keyboard?

5 comments


1 Jarrod Bell { 09.09.08 at 4:55 pm }

That’s a good point, I’d guess if you had an exceptional coding team then you would take some time to mention it in the pitches, otherwise talk more about the finished product you envision having…

Some links come to mind about programming…

Here’s one about programmers
http://xkcd.com/303/

Here’s one about the whole production cycle
http://onproductmanagement.files.wordpress.com/2007/07/treecomicbig.jpg


2 Carolann Fraenkel { 09.09.08 at 6:33 pm }

“what you might be pitching at one end of the business might not resemble what’s actually coming out the other end.”

so true. It is so common to have to go back and completely re-work a product because someone promised a feature that didn’t actually exist. (or sometime was completely impossible)

I agree that I would like to know what the expertise was like in terms of programming. That was one of my issues with Ingenia, they mentioned that they hire contract people as they need them. Which says to me, they can’t afford the staff, and those they do hire have no real tie to the company other than a paycheck. It is very difficult to establish a vision with a contracted programmer, as anyone who decided to outsource has learned.

Carolann


3 David Wees { 09.10.08 at 4:41 am }

I missed the bit about the Thai software company. That’s not something I’d like to see if I were planning on investing in their company. I would wonder if Ingenia was going to be able to reliably meet their deadlines for software development. There are other developing countries which have a much better reputation in the software development community.


4 David Vogt { 09.10.08 at 7:30 am }

Global outsourcing happens because coding is increasingly a commodity in the software world. The most critical (and most expensive) components of modern application development are architecture and data modelling. Another critical link – the disconnect Drew brings up – is product marketing (usually the role of a Product Manager who champions the synergy of marketing and development activities).

Chronic problems are “vapourware” (the marketing of products and features that don’t exist); Q/A (“quality assurance” testing, which is meant to minimize errors and bugs); and usability (it all works, but is enormously frustrating to use because of how it is put together).

Thus, for my two cents, a company wants to keep a superb CTO (technology guru), a Product Manager, and a Usability Specialist. Almost all other development skills are easily replaceable.

Anyone want to debate me?


5 Drew Murphy { 09.10.08 at 8:16 pm }

I wouldn’t bet against your two cents worth but I’d add another coin into the pot and say that a company also needs a kick butt, deadline nazi, counseling mediator, big picture visionary person to keep the other three from running wild or killing each other. But maybe that goes without saying.

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