Coding is the easy part

2015: ‘Peldi’ Guilizzoni – Founder and CEO, Balsamiq

Learning is like a roller coaster ride. Peldi theorizes that we learn in a sort of upward sine wave pattern. We hit peaks and valleys in our quest to educate ourselves. At times we think “Wow, I’m smart and can share my knowledge!”, but other times we don’t feel so smart. Peldi felt knowledgeable and worthy of sharing his experiences in 2010 when presented it at Business of Software. He was feeling the same way again in 2012.

Peldi’s epiphanies as he grew Balsamiq and moved through the various stages of the company:

  • Vision: At first all you have is an idea. You think it’s a great idea, but you don’t want to tell anyone because you think people will steal it. This is despite the fact that no one recommends stealth mode, and that it’s well known that an idea by itself isn’t worth much.
  • Product: Then you think all you have to do is build a product, and the masses will somehow manage to find you.
  • Marketing: Then you realize “Oh crap, now I have to market this.” Marketing is just as important as the idea and the product. Lean startup helps at this stage.
  • Support: If you do the above three right you end up with customers, which leads to doing customer support all the time. You realize customer support is just as important as the previous steps. Then you hire people to do customer support.
  • Company: Now you realize you have a company. When you only have 2 – 3 people it’s just a hobby. This company is fragile and it’s going to take a lot of your time. If you hire the wrong person you could ruin the company.
  • Ecosystem: Once you have a company you can build an ecosystem of partners around that company. That ecosystem gives you a competitive advantage.

There are many books and blogs that go into great depth about the first four topics, but there isn’t a whole lot of information about the last two. This presentation will focus on the last two – company and ecosystem.