I had an interesting visit with the folks at performance-acceleration software startup Infinio a few days ago. The visit served a couple of useful purposes - first, nearly two hours of driving to get there reminded me of why I am glad that I do not have a big daily commute (not to mention that I should look on a map and plan my hotels accordingly!); second, and perhaps of more interest to you, was the way that Infinio reminded me of some focused and uncluttered basics that really matter for startups in this business, but that don't always get a lot of attention in between the funding rounds, engineering meetings, and trade shows.
- Being literally uncluttered....from personal experience, one’s work environment matters. The first thing I noticed was the lack of regular chairs: most of the staff were at "stand-up desks" and there was a consequent air of productivity. The Infinio office itself is light and airy (in a converted twine factory, as it happens); the age doesn't matter so much, but I am convinced that cramped quarters translate to cramped thoughts.
- Clarity of vision and purpose. You would be amazed (at least I hope you would be!) how many young companies do not have uncluttered target-customer-parameters for their product or service: instead they have - invariably - great ideas and technology but they flutter between a variety of "shiny object" use cases, routes to market, and messaging. While a lack of such clutter won't guarantee anyone success, what's interesting is that it certainly obfuscates discovering failure, as continual and fickle changes mean that you never really know which part didn't work....and that matters a lot when you are spending investment dollars (whether your own or from VCs). For its part, Infinio knows its target: it will use the web and channel partners to sell a software tool that uses various server-based solid-state (existing or added) to improve storage performance. Furthermore it is aiming to be a strict “value” play: "80% of the potential total value, for 20% of the price" to quote one of its core team. Clear.
- A good name. Something about the name "Infinio" sounds like it should already exist! Frankly I am surprised no one else had used it already. It is both intuitive and yet modern. I commented on this impression of apparent familiarity while I was there and it turns out that some of the company's conference rooms are named after their prior possible – and thankfully rejected! - corporate names. After discovering Parivar, IOv2, Cocenta, and SilverStor you probably get my point!
And that is all – I am going to take my own advice and avoid digressions or other clutter at the end of this blog entry!