Founder Framework

with Manu Kumar

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Your technology needs the right application

Manu Kumar

Entrepreneur turned Investor, Founder of K9 Ventures, Team & Starting Up Expert

Lessons Learned

Are you building a technology, or are you building an application?

Creating a new technology is a difficult way to build a company.

You have to find an application for your technology for people to get real value out of it.


Lesson: Founder Framework with Manu Kumar

Step #6 Applications: Your technology needs the right application

In a lot of cases it comes down to, "Are you building a technology, or are you building an application?" Building technologies is generally a very hard way to build a business. There are very few companies that have been able to build a business by building just a straight up technology platform. I actually have one of those companies in my portfolio, which is Twilio, which has done a phenomenal job of building technology and having other people build up applications on top of their platform.

When I was looking at investing in Twilio my biggest concern was, "This is a technology stack and applications make money." So how do you build a business that’s based purely on technology?

This was a lesson that I learned early on in my startup career where I started out with technology. I had essentially built something which allowed me to have thousands of people communicating with each other in real time. This is back in ‘96, ‘97. I was looking for what’s the application to build on top of it. So we came up with a couple of different applications. The first application was presales customer service. If you go to the website and you get a little pop up window that says, “Oh can I help you?” you can blame me for that. I have the patent on that from ‘98 or something. That was one of the applications that we built on top of this platform.

Another application that we build on this platform was web conferencing, so essentially doing remote presentations is what we built on top of the same platform. And what I learned there was essentially building the technology platform was not going to help me to actually build the company. I needed to actually find an application on top of that technology to then be able to find people who would actually get value out of it.

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