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Getting a startup off the ground

Articles by George Ornbo, a London-based technologist

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Table of contents

Following the yellow brick road

Photo by Chris Devers

Recently at pebble we’ve had a lot of discussion about the best way to get a startup off the ground. We have the ideas and the skills but need a coherent way to make it happen. We’ve got a mixed team of designers, developers and business level people all of whom have different skills and different ideas on the right way forward.

Here are the options as we see it and the relative pros and cons.

Use client work to fund the startup

This model works where the team works on client projects in order to fund the time to work on the startup. The profit from the client work pays salaries and any fat is pooled into a fund to support working on the startup project.



Hack days

Come into the office at weekends to work on the startup. Given the short amount of time available it is felt more work will get done and the project will progress further.



Spare time

This essentially asks members of the team to work on the project for free in their spare time. Particularly for designers and developers this can be a significant amount of time.



Venture Capital Investment

Go into the market and see if an idea can get investment.



Personal Investment

Members of the project team put up their own cash in order to fund a project.



Develop something for a client then spin it off

This model means developing a product for a client and then extracting it into a web application. There are issues over intellectual property here but if these can be resolved this is a great option.




The biggest issue in all of this is funding. We have the skills and the ideas but we also have mortgages and families. None of the options are 100% perfect and the one we’ll choose won’t necessarily be the right one for all situations.

Ultimately this situation is no different from normal business rules and getting a business off the ground. It is about risk and return. Some options are safer and take longer to achieve, whilst others are more risky but resolve the situation more quickly.

So take your pick Dorothy.

Have an update or suggestion for this article? You can edit it here and send me a pull request.


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