Care does not scale!23 Sep 2019
I have been thinking about life cycle of a typical software startup, and what startups facing as they are trying to scale. So I stumbled upon a very controversial statement which I think might be the answer for many companies as they grow. “Care does not scale”. So let me explain myself.
Typically any software startup begins with couple developers and maybe some business people to get business running. There are no customer care, there are no product development, there are no sales. Just couple people who believe in their idea and truthfully thinking that they can change world and make other people’s life easier. That’s the core of newly formed company. They have no money, they work long hours and they truly care about their customer. Those developers working directly with first users of their system and they doing their best to make those users happy. That is one really big distinguishing factor of any successful startup: those developers do care about their customers, they truly want to do their best, not because of that mythical pay-off one day, but because they care. There is that intimate, if you will, connection between people who building system and those who are using it.
As company grows, and there is steady flow of money, typically startups would hire more people to answer phones and work with customers. Now we have a customer care department. Developers no longer work directly with their consumers, no longer “feel” unfiltered feedback from customers. They still care about product and how to build it, but as there is a “third person in the room” that intimacy is lost. There is no more connection and feedback loop between developers and users.
Startup scales further and adding product managers, sales and etc. That just creates more and more layers between those who build and those who use it, and it no longer possible for developers to care about their users. They may not even know how their product is being used as companies compete. So people who is working on some embedded software, which turns motor of an air pump on and off, based on given pattern, don’t know that their product had been secretly sold to a manufacturer of a life support systems and what could be just a typo in their code may cost someone their life or even many lives when software built by such careless, disconnected people used in an airplane, for example.
So the only conclusion I could have made is that care does not scale!