Startup building for dummies, part TWO: swiftcommunity.net

This is the second chapter of my startup journey.
Totally different animal, context, scope, but still an idea that had lags,this time developed in a corporate context: www.swiftcommunity.net

Of course, I host a blog there too, and many related anecdotes can be found there.
But this is a retrospective, a lesson learned exercise,so will say something new.
Before SCN (historical acronym for the portal) born in September 2007, there were no interactive way to communicate with SWIFT.

Inspired by Italiansonline, the financial community 2.0 around SWIFT found its home on swiftcommunity.net

The challenges were,typically:
– to run a startup in a corporate context. Proper funding and resources (you know who you are, thanks again) but not exactly the flexibility to act fast enough.
– to talk about social media,forum, blogs, when twitter wants barely there and Facebook considered a playground for youngsters
– to try to give procedures and modus operandi, blog policies, personal vs corporate guidelines, where every single possible way of getting things wrong was perceived 10x bigger and more Dangerous than reality.
– to build a start up with “only” qualitative objectives to be defined, being the quantitative ones totally unpredictable.
– the technology: no off the shelf products, too many IT constrains (no way to get open source coding) community requirements of all favors, just to name a couple. So, coding from scratch.

The result was spectacular, and grew for 3 following years in terms of adoption and number of communities. Rules of 80/20 applied, but active users were significantly high compared to the social media rate at that time.

In 2008 I moved to Innotribe (as you might have noticed) and without making any accusation, it s fair to say that the positioning of the platform was less clear. Good news, it s about to be taken care as I write, in a way that will be beneficial for everybody (SWIFT, the users and the community)

I always considered SCN as a mini sandbox in the castle (to use the famous innotribe metaphore), so here are the lessons learned from this startup-in-a-company story.

– your CEO is on board, that s good. You better explain it and get the buy in of the full executive committee.
– you need the money, sure, but probably you need a way to spend it in a more agile way than what the company is used to, especially because most likely you will use new providers, methods, and software.
– rather than spend (the initial) time in global communications, find few believers and use them to spread the (company) message.
– make up a little steering with few executives/key people and to fast, frequent updates on progress report
– don t wait until you have the full blown product before you launch. Because you can test it internally first, make a version people can give feedback to and act upon it.
– the best marketing money you can spend is in doing a 3 min video. If you can t tell your story in 3 minutes, you are already on the edge of being totally misunderstood (or not understood at all)
– the person who created the product is probably not the best person to run it. But if you put it in somebody else’s hands, you better plan for it, not drop the ball.

This is what I could call a Lived through experience.
Hope some of you can get inspired by this.

Next chapter: Innotribe.

Stay tuned

Matteo

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