Thank you for sharing, its a good read giving lots to think about.
Constructive feedback is always welcome so I’ll share my 5 cents on your story. You’ve made the so common start-up “mistake” — you’ve focused your team on people with similar set of core competences — in your case COS; What seems a bit lacking is the business side — because let’s face it, any self respecting business school graduate would have advised against focusing business/tech startup in a market of late adopters at best, cavemen at worst (Eastern Europe Tech Scene), which at the same time doesn’t offer even a quarter of the purchasing power of the average western market. Furthermore rending a decent (cheap) place to start it up and giving your IT people time to focus on what they’re actually good at — coding, instead of drilling holes and connecting Ethernet cables is yet another advise that could’ve saved you a bit of time and struggle and at the same time and simultaneously helped with the learning curve.
But hey, what matters is to learn from the mistakes and to be positive about it. What you’ve there is great and it’s all about going forward.
Speaking of future outlook — I believe it’s of a major importance to sit back, relax, take a deep breath and try to evaluate what do you have and who are you as a company. I’ve noticed this too many times — people and companies do not know what their core competence is and consequently they fail due to lacking the ability to acknowledge the reality for what it is, not what they want it to be. To be precise — most of the businesses /especially IT related/ in Eastern Europe are solely succeeding on cost competition, they are not really that good at what they do, however they succeed because they can offer 3 full stack developers at the cost for which in Germany it will be very difficult to even hire one mediocre dev. At least 90%+ of the companies in the region are purely a cost-cut play, and they cannot be anything else, because they are not good per se, but given that they pay their employees 1.4–1.9k€, which is less than what turkish durum maker in Hamburg gets paid to cut the beef /pun not intended/, they are able to thrive.
To cut to the point — my advise is to just think thoroughly on what you are. If you’re great/best at what you do and are quality game — charge your customers for it, and pay your employees for it.
If you’re yet another cheap labor outsourcing location — focus on that, cut costs, hire more and more devs, since outsourcing is a numbers game.
No matter what play (quality/quantity) you are — you’re going to succeed only if you manage to truly know yourself.
Last piece of advice — think about the house/flat management platform you’re having. Does it bring enough revenue, is the subscription model best for you? You can consider to offer it for FREE* to anybody willing to use it.
- Nothing is free, ever. The users will be paying with their data. “Data for the 21st century is what oil was for 19/20th”. You might surprise yourself how many companies, agencies and people are willing to pay hefty sums in order to evaluate the purchasing power of certain neighborhoods. Good luck :)