Thursday, August 3, 2017

Investor versus Customer

The prosumers envisioned by Alvin Toffler are informed and conscious customers acting on a saturated market, their opinions being very important in decision-making regarding product design matters.

Toffler's analysis has been so snappy, that the prosumers have been the most powerful influencers of the software industry from its very beginning. The end-user comments are handled as valuable resources, from their opinions about "proof of concept" apps to their contiguos feed-back.

The prosumers are our ultimate investors, since by paying our services they are funding the next versions of their software tools.

In order to obtain funds for a brand new project we need a couple of key investors, usually friends and/or business partners, a bank, eventually we may try crowdsourcing. The latter supposes starting a fundraising campaign, which can be considered a stand-alone project due to its considerable resource needs and risks (building a stable community of supporters and spreading the word need time and a lot of skilled work).

And here come in the big questions: what kind of investors we really need, how to find them, and how to keep them without compromising our project?

When opting for crowdfunding, we are committing oneself to the expectations of a more or less numerous community, and in optimal case we transform them in our prosumers.

When opting for a small group of investors we need to analyze carefully their personalities and histories, otherwise at some point our project could be hijacked, or it could degrade in a battlefield for sole competitors with big egos.

When shaking hands with investors one need to consider the same risks as when onboarding employees, but when the collaboration does not work, in general it's many more painful, complicated and time consuming to change things.

In case of IT&C projects the experience and skill set of an investor may be also a delicate subject matter. As a junior analyst I've been surrounded by tech guys and I've been missing the perspective of business guys. Later as a semi senior analyst I've been missing the perspective of tech guys mastering certain technologies I haven't had access to.

When defining my own project idea, I've been thinking for a while about finding investors, who don't interfere at all in the decisions. After some time I've realized, that all the efforts put in finding investors with a predefined profile are vaste of resources, and the campaigns don't build me neither a personality nor a history.

Mature investors and project owners are looking for similar human values, and the best thing one can do for attracting and keeping the right investors is focusing on our to-do and personal development.

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