As developers it is often frustrating working with someone used to a large institution culture
and way of doing things. Our journey was no different.
You could say, they just didn’t get tech and the startup world!
Whilst we got there in the end as a team, the working cultural differences did cause a
number of initial challenges we needed to overcome as a team. Looking back, it has made
us stronger as a team. This blog summarises a few of observations during our early days of
Accountants void of humour
As developers we have worked with and created a number of startup tech platforms. This
was the first time working with an accountant but we had experienced of working with
people from large institutions before and encounter similar frustrating issues at the outset.
Accountants void of humour
As developers, our preconception of an accountant was corporate, slow paced, straight
laced and void of any humour. Whilst some of the preconceptions were true others were
What was clear from the outset is that we were from completely different working cultures.
Our initial challenge was to ensure every team member knew the skill sets of every team
member. Looking back, we should have spent more time at the outset understand the
strengths of each team member which would have reduced duplication of efforts and
increased efficiency. This was a big learning point and we would recommend teams of a
similar make up take time to understand each others skill sets at the outset of a new startup
One benefit of working with someone from a large institution entering the tech startup
world is their enthusiasm. Whilst this is great, it did also cause issues.
People from a large institution will enthusiastically research and learn about various
elements of a startup. Whilst this is to be encouraged it does create friction as they try to
educate people who have been there and done it, not just read about it.
It is like telling Usain Bolt how to run after reading a book on How to Run!
We have encountered this on a number of projects. We are not sure you can every tackle
the issue. You just need to be aware that it will happen and over time it settles down.
The enthusiasm does also create problems in work load balance. As our accountant founder
was new to the startup world, they wanted to get involved in everything. This meant they
ended up taking on far too many roles which would have been better suited to other team
At the outset every startup has a focus on getting to market quickly. A leaning point from
our journey would be to ensure adequate time was dedicated at the start to map out the
journey and the roles each team member was suited to do.
People from large institutions typically come from a background of perfection. In their
world the company’s brand is paramount and therefore everything needs to be absolutely
right before it goes out of the door.
A startup is the complete opposite. It is all about getting to market quickly to test the
concept. As developers we are used to getting a beta platform around 30-40% right before
market testing. Our accountant founder wanted perfection. This was a little bonkers as
were only creating a Minimum Viable Product.
We settled on a middle ground of around 60% but this meant additional time and work
getting our product to market. The perfectionist is something to remember when working
with people from large institutions.
A startup is all about being lean. As a team we have worked in a number of startups and
found admin items are often ignored.
The IntroStream journey was refreshing in this area. The accountant brought rigor and
documentation to the team. All team meetings from the outset were documented together
with everything in relation to legals and shareholdings. It was so refreshing being part of a
team where every key decision was agreed by every team member and formally
A few of our previous startup’s would have benefit from this rigor.
There are clear benefits to working with someone from a large institution as their skill set
can benefit the team hugely. However, don’t underestimate how long it will take before the
team totally understand everyone’s skill sets.