What did SpaceX, Google and Uber have in common when they started out?
They took similar technology decisions in the early days: they brought technology partners on board.
Elon Musk, in a public interview, had said he got as many technology partners on board in the early days of SpaceX as he could.
Uber also didn’t build tech in its initial days. Uber started as an excel sheet and got operations going. When they wanted to build their first app, they got a partner to do it for them, instead of hiring an in-house tech team. Travis is from a hardcore tech background but didn’t build a team for the first version.
Not just that — Alibaba.com, Google, Github, Skype, Whatsapp and many, many other companies that are giants now started by getting tech partners on board.
In India, collaborating with technology partners started in the late 90s, when Infosys started getting a lot of projects. Remember the Y2K scare? For a lot of banks, the number of machines they had to fix the Y2K bug was huge. The systems were antiquated but were mission critical. Financial businesses started freaking out as they were clueless about how to handle the apocalyptic threat.
Thankfully, the guys at Infosys were among the very few who understood these age-old systems. So, they got the deal. The rest, as they say, is history.
Outsourcing vs Technology Partners
Getting a Technology partner on board and outsourcing are vastly different. Outsourcing is when a company tries to save some money and appoint the cheapest bidder to do a certain job.
When you start a company, you might not be able to afford a full-time expert on board. The solution? Hire an expert for a short term. You spend less, you get a better output.
Basically, what you are doing is instead of trying to do it all on your own, you get experts on board who can help you with the parts of your business you don’t understand well. So, SpaceX or Alibaba didn’t simply ‘outsource’. They just got partners who knew more than them!
What can hiring a technology partner achieve?
Getting a technology partner on board works best If you know what to do and it’s already established how to do it. Usually, the process is well-defined and done several times before.
Also, this operation is not mission critical and metrics or key results for this task are not very tight, so even if the key results are not met, it’s not a big problem.
It does not scale the core business, which means it does not affect the top line. This is operating revenue and something that you ought to optimize.
When you are building, all you should be doing is focusing on two things — focus on your problem and acquire your first happy customer.
In the next article, we will explore how you can choose the perfect technology partner for your business. So, stay tuned!