There is no doubt that when you’re setting up a company, the best (or rather one of the quickest) ways to do it, is with people that are located in the same city as you.
When we set up watchmethink we did it the hard way – there were 3 of us and we were located well apart – London, Geneva and Brisbane. Today this is possible because of a number of factors and it can be relatively cheap and simple to maintain. Collaboration tools enabled us to share and build documents/spreadsheets (Google Docs), sync calendars so we knew where everyone was (Google Calendar), we had access to a free crm system, a free project management system and of course ran 3-way video conferencing (via Skype). None of that cost us a penny/cent. Using these simple tools we were able to build up the business idea and structure from scratch. We were able to spend money where we needed to (alas, there are no free lawyers/accountants).
Saying all that, the bit we all miss the most is the working together. The being in the same room. We get the most done that way, and we get it done quickly. Decisions are made fast, debates are had freely and openly, and it’s easier to understand peoples emotions when face to face. During just 3 or 4 intensive face to face sessions since the idea was formed we’ve completed a huge amount of work, gained new motivation (sometimes you just want to have a beer together when you’ve had a good day – virtual beers aren’t the same) and progressed the idea to where it needed to be – which is moving forward at all times.
From previous posts you’ll see we’ve marked ourselves down on ‘speed’ when assessing the ‘things all start ups must remember’. Yes, we haven’t been as fast as we could have been if we were all located in one city. But what we’ve lost in speed we’ve made up for in other areas and we’re actually much more prepared to move this into the markets we want to. We know we have to maintain the face to face meetings at key stages of development, but we also know we can get to where we want to be without that need every day.
*chinks virtual glass on virtual friend’s virtual glass and sips virtual beer*