I work for an ISV startup as lead of technical development. We have recently refocused all of our committments to a new product idea that I personally feel can be a huge success and is already getting some attention. One of our managing partner's happens to be a celebrity that is also acting as our spokesperson and assisting in the overall marketing effort.
Even though we have good prospects and a celebrity spokesman, we are operating on limited resources that were brought to the table by the MP's. What little money that is available is focused on sales and marketing efforts, while I am not left with much help on software development.
This would of course be fine if no explicit deadlines for release have been established yet, but the marketing people are already talking an unofficial launch date with prospective clients that is extremely ambitious with the limited resources at the moment.
The company seems averse to taking any liabilities at all, preferring instead to work off of limited capital alone. This may of course change if a big client officially signs the dotted line, but for right now taking liability to fund software development is not an option. I was under the impression that loans for technology startups are practically free anymore, making this a no-brainer decision in my mind.
My question is if this liability-averse attitude is typical in technology startups? Also I was wondering if it is always a good idea to focus as much effort and energy on marketing as soon as possible, even before a clear vision of the final product is realized or before full attention to software development is given thought?
Yes, it is perfectly OK to focus on marketing ahead of development. This is because to gather business requirements and feedback from the customers (as they look into prospects), so after several meetings with potential customers / investors, you can make something useful, however they need to understand that development must be stable, solid, and cyclic, with the minimum funding to do the job, and build platform.