Starting a High Tech Business: Achieving Q=1


I'm starting a new business called Kynetx. As I go through some of the things I do, I'm planning to blog them. The whole series will be here. This is the sixteenth installment. You may find my efforts instructive. Or you may know a better way----if so, please let me know!

Implosion of a fusion microcapsule on the NOVA...

Image via Wikipedia

In fusion energy research Q is the ratio of fusion power produced in a nuclear fusion reactor to the power required to maintain the plasma in steady state and is called the fusion energy gain factor. When Q=1, the amount of power that the reaction is producing is equal to the amount of power you're putting into it to establish the fusion in the first place. Alas, fusion researchers have yet to get to this point.

You can also think of your business having a Q factor that is the ratio between the energy and activity your business is generating and the amount of energy you're having to put into it.

In the early days, your Q factor will be very low. You're putting in enormous amounts of energy (not to mention money) and seeing very little excitement or movement. Every conversation is hard because you're not sure how to explain the idea. You won't have a real product yet, so customer conversations are as difficult as they are necessary. Convincing investors, volunteers, and co-founders to jump in or keep going is hard.

Then one day something will seem different. Instead of you telling others why what you're trying to do is cool, they'll start telling you. Investors will be excited when you talk them instead of tolerant. And people will sense the energy and want to jump on board. Your Q-factor just crossed 1.

One of the hardest parts of reaching Q=1 is that you often don't realize when you're getting close. The energy requirements aren't linear. You often have to work harder than ever just when it's the easiest to give up and believe you're wasting your time.

In the same manner, getting past Q=1 doesn't mean it's easy afterwards. You still have to put in a lot of work. Probably even more than before. But psychologically, you've reached an important milestone that makes it easier to do because you're getting positive feedback that reinforces your beliefs and efforts.