February 1, 2021

Lessons Learned in 10 years of Volcube

I vividly remember the early summer of 2010, when I started writing code for a stealth-mode startup. There was no name but we used a code name “project volt”. Fast forward 10 years, Volcube, as it later became known, was sold to our joint venture partner of 5 years.

Looking back, I count myself lucky as 90% of the startups fail; We managed to build a leading product in the field from scratch, with a number of customer segments spanning many countries. It was certainly not a failure but I would not call Volcube a huge success either, at least not at the level exemplified by some other SaaS product companies featured in the limelight.

One thing I know for sure is that I have taken many learnings from being the founding CTO for those 10 years of Volube. It would be a shame if I did not write them down and share with people who may find them useful. So here go the lessons leant and the hope is when you find yourself in those situations, you are more informed and/or better prepared.

I will delve into a few common topics during a startup lifecycle, in the context of Volcube, in this three-part series. The first part is for product and growth; followed by engineering and design; and then any other topics. Each part ends with a what-we-could-have-done-differently question to give some food for thoughts.

Unsplash | Med Badr Chemmaoui

No matter what your role is, the series has hopefully been something useful.

There is one more thing: I have never understood it when people say you should make it a fun experience when building a startup; maybe my definition of fun is different. What I would say is that starting from creating a product that offers values to people (to justify the economies of its existence), and then making it as advanced as possible (to be the best in class) so people cannot say no to it wherever there is such a need.

You know the moment when I realised we built such a product? It was when it took us a while to reason why Volcube behaved in a way that made sense but was not immediately obvious - this product did its job better than any human who built it, with speed and ease; and that to me is a rewarding experience like no other.

Good luck and keep building!

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