If you ever thought startup life would be about champagne toasts and million dollar term sheets then you need to get back in your time machine and set the dial for the nineties. If there's one thing we learned in the latter half of this decade, it's discipline. To say that it was a tough year, would be an understatement. But those of us who stayed lean will be back for 2010. While the below concepts weren't invented this year, they certainly hit their stride in 2009.
1. Outsourced Labor: Rather than hiring onsite staff, more companies flocked to services like Mechanical Turk and Crowdflower to fulfill simple tasks. Companies listed their jobs and thankfully, a temporary workforce was there to get it done.
2. Cloud Scalability: Rather than paying for a slew of dedicated servers, startups took advantage of elastic workload tools like Amazon Web Services and Heroku. These services kept our site running during huge traffic spikes, but they ensured we weren't burning cash in the downtime.
Google Apps made huge headway in 2009 as companies migrated from Microsoft to the cloud. Many startups began using real-time cloud collaboration tools to organize their projects, while others looked to customer service sites like Get Satisfaction and Zendesk to manage complaints.3. Web-Based Project Services:
4. Monetization: While consumers will settle for free products, premium services demand a certain level of competence. According to 37signals CEO Jason Fried, "the most intimate transaction between people is money". In other words, if you put a price on your product and users paid it, you got your feedback. From paid iPhone apps to subscription music services, businesses in 2009 got the feedback they needed to find out if their products made the cut with consumers.
5. The New PR: From soft-spoken Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh and his Twitter empire to fast talking Gary Vaynerchuk and his wine podcasts, startup leaders opened the kimono and engaged with stakeholders. Communities don't get built on autopilot or by a ghostwriting marketing intern. To grow social capital, we learned that we need to put ourselves out there (flaws and all) and treat our audience members like the intelligent beings they are.
Thanks for reading ReadWriteStart in 2009. We look forward to a great 2010 with you and would like to wish you a Happy New Year.