The tough decision
In May of 2015, I was faced with a decision that many students have to go through after graduation:
- Take a corporate job at a big company, and become one more little piece of a well-structured machine.
- Or take a risk and start my own company.
When I graduated, I already had an offer on the table from a big software company. They promised good money, my transfer expenses paid for, and a bonus just for signing with them. Despite the security they provided, I knew I could create great technology without having to commit to someone else, and that I could help people from my community get closer to their dreams through software.
Having made the decision to start a company, Vicente Balderas and I founded Disblu with only one goal in mind:
Create great software to help as many people as we can.
These are some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way.
What should I charge for our services?
Pricing is a really hard thing to figure out. Should I charge less, because we may not have as much experience? Or should I set prices high, because the competition does, and I believe we can offer something just as good? There are too many things to consider when it comes to compensated fairly.
What if we set prices too low, and our client thinks the quality will be poor? Or what if we’re too expensive, and the client believes they could get another company to do the same job for less?
We have come to a conclusion. We should charge for what we are – a team of engineers and designers who are qualified to fulfil the client’s expectations. The planning, analysis, design, development and testing we offer has great value. We are giving the client the execution of an idea.
We are not freelancers, we are a team of technology experts.
It takes time to get the ‘yes‘
When we started, we thought that after talking to a client, and getting them excited about what we could offer as a technology solution, it would take at most 1 week to actually get the ‘Yes’ needed to start the project.
Oh were we wrong!! We found that it can actually take somewhere between 2 weeks and 6 months. It mostly depends on how big the big company is, and how high up in the hierarchy the final decision has to be taken from.
The key is to not treat our business prospects as clients, but as partners – both working together over time to achieve a common goal.
Terms and conditions are complicated, but it’s better for everyone to have them
Yes, we don’t understand most of the terms. Yes, we need a lawyer to help us with it.
We are engineers and designers, we have no idea how to start writing a contract, neither would we know how to react if a client decides to not pay for our services, or when the other party does not meet its obligations.
Contracts, as well as being helpful on occasions such as the one outlined above, are necessary to help formalize the exchange of services for goods. They give the client assurance that we are going to deliver what’s expected of us, and it gives us the security that the payment dates are to be respected.
The less parties involved, the better
Software development is a complex process, even for an established team. Many of the initial requirements can become irrelevant during the life of a project, causing the design or code to change at any time. This can be complicated to keep track of, even for an experienced team that has worked together for a long time.
We found that when there is a problem, it’s better solved with the minimum number of people necessary (even better if it’s within the same team). That makes the problem solving faster and less error prone.
There are people going through the same thing
We are fortunate to live in a city filled with entrepreneurs. They have the same problems as us, and may have even have found the solutions to many.
It is really satisfying to share experiences with other startups, so all of us can learn from one another and become better professionals together. We’ve met a wide range of startups from different industries including: design, architecture, software, and even advertising. I feel proud to share our amazing entrepreneurial ride with them, and I am sure that Monterrey and Mexico will be better because of their hard work.
There are many software startups in Monterrey, but instead of looking at them as rivals, we look to them as a group of people who we can ask for help, or provide it ourselves. That’s what we believe is key to success. Getting along with local startups and growing together.
We have made mistakes, and have seen what we believed to be correct crumble before our eyes. We are confident that we’ll continue to make mistakes, as we try new things and embrace risk. This is how we will learn and mature as a company.
Are you an entrepreneur? How has your way of thinking changed?