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Too often, startup executives spend their early days focused solely on their technology. That can lead to the development of products that are cutting-edge and powerful but for which there is no market.
There's another way, says Roger Burkhardt, CEO of Ingres, a provider of open-source database software and services.
"Start with the customer," says Burkhardt, who as the former CIO of the New York Stock Exchange was a buyer of enterprise hardware and software.
You have to provide customers with a value proposition, he says.
As we reported in early December, Ingres says it's long-term top line growth is above 30% and the firm hopes to execute an initial stock offering sometime this year. The company posted two cash-flow positive quarters in 2007 and is forecasting it will be earning a profit, less stock option costs, by the end of 2008.
Another piece of advice from Burkhardt: "surround yourself with great people and give them a slice of the company" to motivate them.
Lastly, Burkhardt shared something we've heard over and over again from veteran entrepreneurs: "cash is king. When you spend it, you no longer have it, so make sure you've got enough," he says.
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