OK, so it’s tough out there, what did you expect? Yet a FOSS start-up needs to get customers and big corporates need innovative ideas like never before. We really “get” global competition now and if we aren’t selling something useful or making it in the most efficient way then someone else is going to be eating from our Bento box.
Clichés aside for a moment, consider this; start-ups use open source software to bootstrap themselves -- they have an idea, they have a rough guess at product-market fit and they work on a prototype. Guess what, they may have misjudged the demand. They think, in fact they’re certain, there’s a market out there for their product/service but they just don’t know for sure exactly what is going to be required to make it a viable, buyable product.Now, big business needs smart ideas to compete better and start-ups need clients that pay their bills. Yet, if a start-up goes and knocks on a few doors they’ll quickly find that they are shut and bolted on the inside. This is crazy, we’ve already established that big business needs new ideas and that start-ups have new ideas (albeit a bit unpolished) yet they can often be locked out at the start of a sales cycle by corporate process.Typical responses from established businesses are, “Who are your current customers and where are the sure-fire case-studies of people who’ve used your product? What’s your track record? What’s your trading record over the last three years? No, we only use preferred suppliers and you have to be on the list…we/re too busy to talk to new companies right now.” All these make it hard work for early stage companies to get through the door and see the right person.So if you’re in a corporate role, why not spend this year embracing the start-up? Make it a mission to see at least one new company a week and even if you don’t buy what they’re making, tell them why, tell them what they need to do to turn their product from 0.1 to 1.0 or point them at a potential customer or new market. Remember, they’re probably working day and night shifts on their software and don’t have time to be Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Strategy Officer, Chief Commercial Officer as well as CEO and developer.Free and Open Source should be just that, give advice freely and open the door so they don’t have to sneak in through the out door. Support entrepreneurship in 2012 and help a start-up – you know it makes sense.