One of the hardest things you can attempt to do is to turn a startup into a successful company. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say the startup I am part of is a success, we have made significant strides toward it. I have heard that startup companies fail for many reasons. From poor leadership to lack of funding, the odds are against you, but that is how we like it.
Aside from the common obstacles that most startups face, we at Future Delivery have a unique obstacle that most other startups don’t encounter. While I wouldn’t call our obstacle a problem, I would say that it poses a wild-card element to the startup life. Over last 2 years our company has gone through many changes. The biggest of which is the relocation of our CEO and the addition of new members to our team from different parts of the map. With 2 core team members in Los Angeles and 2 in Silicon Valley and several others in different parts ranging from Texas to Turkey, we are not just a startup, but a global startup.
Our CEO, Yu-Kai Chou moved to Silicon Valley in a move that he felt would make the company stronger in terms of being able to network with tech savvy individuals in that area as well as meet investors for our company. Currently, Jun Loayza and myself are here in the Los Angeles area working primarily on marketing. With such a great distance between us, the question is how does this affect us? Now it would be a lie if I said that everything is fine, but in all honesty we would love it if we could all be in the same area working together. This past week I was able to meet up with Yu-Kai and spend some time working along side him as well as getting to know him better.
I had met Yu-Kai only once before this week, with all other times being through our weekly Skype meetings and through email. Although I had only met him once before this week, I felt like he was a friend I had known for a long time. From our talks, I was able to learn a lot from him. We talked about many things ranging from what inspired him to start Future Delivery to what his outlook on this year was. From just a couple hours of talking with him, I had learned so much. I can only imagine how much more I could learn from him if we could meet more often.
Yes, it is true that even though we are all located in different parts of the globe that we can still stay in touch through email and Skype, but that still can’t take the place of meeting someone in person. When the team is together, we work diligently and get a lot done. When we are not together, we still work hard and get a lot done, but there is still an element missing. It is hard to say exactly what element but to help explain it, it is like winning a basketball game but no one is around to see it. You can bring home the trophy and show your friends and family, but you are still wishing they came to see you play. I have no qualms about our team not being closer together, but I wouldn’t mind it. I am confident with the makeup of our core team members, we have the personality and drive to stay productive and headstrong.
How Can You Be Successful While So Far Apart?
Even though we are in different places and in different time zones, that doesn’t mean we can’t be successful. A long distance relationship is hard and difficult but you still do it because you love the other person. For us, that other person is our company. We love our company. Through it all, we have learned to adapt and stay focused. Here are some things that we do in our company to help us be productive and operate:
Add us on Gmail and you will see us on Gmail Chat at least 4-5 hours out of the day. This is one of the easiest ways for us to stay in touch with each other and we are constantly in contact. Aside for emailing each other updates and questions, we also CC each other on important emails from our clients so that we all have a firm understanding of what is going on.
Good thing Skype is free, because if we had to pay per minute, we might be broke by now. We have a weekly meeting every week through Skype where we talk about goals for the next week as well as updates from the last one. This is where we can just catch up on what’s been going on in our lives as well as see if there are any things we need to focus on.
Google Docs. Scoreboard
Created by Yu-Kai, the scoreboard system is almost like a work diary where we can assign points to every ‘task’ we complete. It is a way to increase productivity through friendly competition and also to keep track of what we have worked on. I highly suggest doing this as it is a great way to make sure everyone is focusing on the appropriate tasks.
Just like my earlier analogy about comparing our company to a long distance relationship, anyone who gets into a long distance relationship does it in hopes of one day reuniting with their significant other. We hope that one day we will be able to work side by side with each other and work toward making our company successful. Until then, distance will not stop us.
Photo by Proud Dad