The Idea Dude


Friday, March 04, 2011

The Way of the Bamboo

Bamboo is the fast growing plant on earth. There is a species called Moso which can grow up to 119cm (47 inches) in 24 hours and 24m (79 feet) high in 40 days. It is actually a grass although most people do not think of bamboo as such.

Ironically, during the first few years (3-5 years), there is no visible growth and then magically, it starts its astronomical growth spurt as described earlier. Unseen by most of us during the time of 'dormancy', it is actually building a vast root system in preparation of the growth phase. A great description of the bamboo lifecycle can be found here.

It describes the path of Play Dynamics. For over 4 years, Tony and I founded and ran TheGoodBlogs. TheGoodBlogs was not a financial success, but we carried on regardless because I believed in 2 things. Firstly, unless you participate you will not find opportunity. Secondly, every part of the journey has some learning and that learning prepares you for greater things to come.

Learning about Moso bamboo has given me hope that the last 4-5 years has been just that, the preparation phase. We learnt first hand about building scalable websites, dabbled in mobile applications, built an incredible network of people who continue to serve as advisors and sounding boards.

I believe most startups never make it past year one simply because they are unprepared. Bamboo would not be able to grow rapidly and to great heights if it not for the giant root network they established. The same is true for startups. It is rare that someone hits it out the park in their first try. We only see the superstars not the other 99.9% that never make it for whatever reason.

Play Dynamics was conceived in November last year with my good friends Sharleen and Tony. Being old and scarred (in Internet years), we were hesitant to pull the trigger, plus the fact we were bogged down with an intensive consulting contract. As the New Year unfolded, we decided this was the time. In hindsight, it was not so much the product ideas that intrigued me, it was the fact that collectively this group had three incredible ingredients: experience, creativity and energy.

Moments like this come often only once a lifetime.

In the space of 3 weeks, we moved offices, built a team of 10 and was up and running without missing a heartbeat. After month 2, we are still rocking, with product ideas and prototypes to boot, at the same time managing our consulting revenue to pay the bills. Four years ago, we would not have been able to move as decisively and quickly as we have this year. Most decisions and knowing what to do came naturally and when we didn't know, I knew who to call.

Bamboo groves are often called colonies because like grass, they never grow alone. As in the previous blog post, I really believe all that preparation paid off and now we have the right to play. So far, we're growing as group in leaps and bounds, hopefully our root network of people and knowledge will be able to sustain us.

At the end of the day, I am realistic, some of our ideas will tank and others will succeed wildly. That is business reality. But I'm convinced that longevity is not in the products but the people who create them and who can't wait each day to come to work to play.

This is the Way of the Bamboo.


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