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3/13/2008
09:10 PM
Terry Sweeney
Terry Sweeney
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What Sticks

And what doesn't in the startup world doesn't appear to have much to do with technology. Like in sports, whoever can deliver on the fundamentals -- in this case, basic business fundamentals, stands a better chance of thriving in the market.

And what doesn't in the startup world doesn't appear to have much to do with technology. Like in sports, whoever can deliver on the fundamentals -- in this case, basic business fundamentals, stands a better chance of thriving in the market.OK, so that last sentence may read as appallingly self-evident. But it emerges time and again in this self-assessment Byte & Switch did of its top 10 startups from the summer of 2007. Where companies fell short wasn't because the technology was ahead of its time or too complex (yeah, right -- like that ever stopped a storage vendor with an idea).

It was because the business parts misfired.

Swiss vendor Agite Software lost its American distributor for reasons it doesn't really care to discuss. Open-source management vendor Qlusters swapped out CEOs and is equally loathe to parse the reasons. In both cases, incompatibilities that had nothing to do with interfaces or protocols or technology.

And is coyness a business strategy? Ocarina seems to think so. Better to drop it and test whether its broad-based compression has any real legs in the marketplace. (Coming, the CEO says.)

Startups that have won reseller and OEM deals (a revenue cornerstone for any startup) look to be most squarely on the road to longevity. Clustered IP vendor Pivot3's done relatively well here, but ProStor has really excelled with partners and OEM deals for its removable media solution.

Too often we as an industry get overly focused on whether technology will work or find acceptance in the marketplace. That line of thinking only addresses half the challenge. How good the business execution is going to be is a far harder issue to judge, especially with companies like these that have no track record.

The business of storage is, still, business.

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