Monday, January 30, 2006

Dissecting Venture Capitol

As I continue to get feedback about VC, and listen to others, the picture gets clearer for me.

I've previously come to conclude that VC has a minimum threshold, below which it can't operate. My current view is that VC can only deal with company size investments, which makes sense for a lot of reasons.

I've not been through VC myself, so I have zero knowledge of the process internals. So, let me use a hypothetical example. Let's say someone with a large chunk of change decides my BitGrid idea can be turned into a product, here's how I suspect it would work:

Idea + $ ---> Small Company

Company + $$$ + Time + Other Employees ---> Potential Gold Mine

Potential Gold Mine + Market Opprotunity + Good Marketing ---> PROFIT!

Breaking it down further, one sees that the company is a catalyst, along with a lot of $. The company gives control to its owners, especially control of any potential profit, but more importantly, control of the allocation and management of resources.

Money gets uses as a proxy to buy work from talent. It also gets used to hire management, QA, support and a lot of other necessary structure to provide an framework for the idea to blossom.

Once the idea has blossomed, it still takes a good market opprotunity, and good marketing to get the product to informed buyers.

ALL of the above steps could be done in an open source process. There are quite a few open source software authors, showing that the model works in that one instance. Transforming other types of creative product development into an open model is going to take quite a bit of work. There are a lot of roles that have only traditionally been done inside a company, as a part-time role. If we truely want to open up the creative process, these have to be done in the open as well.

I know some great project managers, they have just enough technical skills to watch for obvious bloopers, and to know how to communicate effectively with technical staff. We're going to have to recruit a lot of project managers, and other skill sets to join if we want to eliminate the need for companies and truckloads of cash to outright purchase those skills. It's going to be an interesting time.

So, to summarize:

Innovators + Developers + Managers + Support + Marketing + Luck --> Open Innovation

This goes far beyond the traditional sourceforge model of a software product. Were do we find someone to donate marketing skills, for example?

This is quite a challenge, but I believe we're up to it as a community.


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