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A Few Words On Startup Culture

Every once in a while, I get to see people bragging about their latest Hire! Which is very natural for people in tech. Winning the talent war is no small victory. But, what’s shocking is, almost nobody in Bangladesh talks about startup culture. The country has seen a steady growth of startups in recent years — Newscred being the most talked about startup in town and by far the most successful one. A few other companies have secured funding from notable Silicon Valley venture firms. Many more have bootstrapped out of their bedrooms and have gone public. Yet, a large proportion of them have failed prematurely.

It’s undeniable that we have a shortage of talent. But, I believe what makes these startups fail is a lack of understanding of the importance of culture. I myself have been part of three startups so far — one being my own and two I worked for. I have seen how culture can fail you. As I grew in experience, I have come to realize that most startups fail not because of a lack of talent, but because of a denial of culture in defining their fate. And, yes, of course a lack of long-term vision can be blamed as the prime cause. But, isn’t that within the scope of a culture problem too?

Attributing the success of Apple on Steve Jobs is easy — occasionally, quoting how he denied or defined certain product. But, what separated Apple from the rest is not how one man ran the whole thing. I think, Steve’s greatest accomplishment was defining the culture at Apple. So, that it could cut through the noise and come up with with brilliant products like it did and still doing to some degree.

A recent example is Microsoft’s comeback. It has always been the forefront of tech, has it not? With it’s flagship operating system running the worlds laptops and desktops. MS has come under fire in recent years because of a lack of innovation and coherency in it’s product lineup. Most startup pundits have criticized it’s culture and it’s many levels of bureaucracy. But, look like it’s changing. Recently, Microsoft has released some astonishing products- both software and hardware and acquired some key startups that made us believe that something is changing Microsoft from inside. That something is it’s culture. From outside, Microsoft looks more streamlined now and one with a vision.

Anyone one who has ever dabbled into product development knows how messy it is. Cutting the noise from the signals is a very difficult task. It’s extremely hard to come up with a coherent and consistent product that people would love to use. That is why may be applications are full of features that nobody ever uses. Streamlining the whole team under one vision requires investment, awareness and passion. That is precisely why your focus shouldn’t be on hiring the best people, but hiring the ones with most culture fit. If people aren’t alined under a vision, then they only add more distractions.