by Tim Heger, CTO and CISO with HealthBridge
The success of a technology startup starts with a solid foundation made up of the three Ps and two S. The three Ps are people, processes and partnerships. The three Ps are supported and enabled by the two Ps – security and scalability.
To understand how the P and S elements work together to create that solid foundation for a successful startup, here is an overview of the benefits of each element:
The three ps.
People – You can all have the processes, partners, security, scalability and synergies, but having the wrong people can mean the difference between quick success and quick failure. Be uncompromising with those first dozen settings. Not only do you need to have a great technical fit, you also need someone to work with who also brings a common value system to the company. In industries as competitive as technology, some traits should include unwavering nature, ingenuity, innovative vision, and the ability to bring creative solutions to the table. The flexibility of the entire team is critical to the success of a startup and you will be spending more time with this immediate team for the foreseeable future than anyone else in your life. So choose wisely.
process – To begin with, you need to start by defining and implementing the right processes to emulate how your business will perform after the startup phase. Setting up and implementing specific tasks and workflows is a fluid process until you’re ready to go. You may need to pan until you find the flow that works best for your team. If you want to avoid a headache, don’t wait until later to try and get the structure right when things really get going. You can see the size and constraints of the business sooner if you implement processes early and know when it is time to make changes.
Partnerships – Choosing the right partnerships to successfully grow your startup can be challenging. It is important to know which technology partner your company needs to scale. Your prospective partner should have the experience and expertise in the areas that are important to your business. Also, try to find a partner whose vision matches yours. Due to the insecurity of early-stage startups, it’s not uncommon for partners and employees to be very scared. Transparency and clarity among members are critical to your success, and that includes regular communication. By continuing to provide feedback on milestones and deadlines to one another, you will create the positive and empowering environment necessary to get off to a successful start.
The two S’s.
security – Startups move fast to hire CISOs at a very early stage as the industry realizes that while the CISO position may have been held until an IPO, well-run security is the zero point of success and also ensures the ability to Problems as you pan and solve business grows. For example, a startup conducts business negotiations with potential partners and investors who need to ask difficult questions and understand how quickly and confidently you can react if an event or violation occurs. How your team approaches and thinks about security, how you design your applications, your networks, and your processes, must be based on a deep commitment as stewards of the information that has been entrusted to you.
Scalability – As a startup, you have to constantly think about whether you can scale your technology to a larger infrastructure. Can the architecture, code structures and network configurations handle the load you expect in three years? If you don’t know the answer to the question, start doing serious stress testing once a quarter. For example, prove that your systems can handle the load of 10,000 people in an hour, which equates to over 3 million members. Why 10k? You want to be here in a very short time. In this exercise you may find some gaps in your processes, examine the problems carefully, spend some time in lively discussions about the correct way to solve the problems, iterate, retest, and repeat. The last thing you want is to hit that 10,000 an hour load and crash your systems.
I have successfully used the Three Ps and Two Ss approach for more than 20 years as a structure that has helped startups achieve success in less time. A well implemented P&S strategy will pay off in the years to come.
Tim Heger is Chief Technical Officer and Chief Information Security Officer at HealthBridge. A unique solution for employee financial security that provides a financial resource that employees can use to pay for medical care costs out of pocket. Tim has focused on emerging technologies for the past 20 years, helping global companies meet the demands of a consumer-centric digital ecosystem.