Building a Start-up in the SAP HANA space

I have some fond memories of a television series from the BBC called “A Car is Born” a 15 episode show where the presenter, Mark Evans painstakingly builds a AC Cobra replica. The show highlighted his experiences, trials and tribulations of building something from the ground up.

At TechEd 2014 in Las Vegas I gave a presentation on being a part of the SAP HANA startup program, developing a product, and trying to make an impact in the world of SAP HANA. While its been an interesting ride, I really felt that my 45 minutes up at the podium was really not enough to convey the past 2 years of highs, lows, successes and failures. Since that was the case, I thought I would get back to some blogging about my experiences along the road, hoping that I can inspire, dissuade and educate others about my quest, just like the BBC show. If you are a budding entrepreneur, HANA guru or just wanting to gain some life lessons (at someone else cost), I encourage you to read on, and share your experiences through some of your life journeys.

“You should never underestimate enthusiasm”

Over the past 15 odd years of my life I have developed a myriad of applications, some that succeed, and others which failed miserably, but in every case on my path from taking the product from inception to reality, it has always been done with such optimism and enthusiasm that even if the idea was mediocre, in my eyes it was a clear winner. Sometimes this “fog” can get the better of you, but in most cases its the drive which encourages you to work late and over the weekends with the intention to build something which is going to be a winner.

Working on metric² was no different. I recall spending multiple hours at TechEd/Sapphire hearing about HANA and its opportunity to change the world, wondering what the true benefit of HANA really was, and it was just not evident to me. That was until a few things changed my perception, I was working at a customer site which had 23 different systems being consolidated into a single data mart for a single report which was run daily. People worked tirelessly to ensure 23 different ETL jobs were processed timely, correctly and accurately to produce 1 measly report, and it struck me that this would be a great use-case for HANA. I started to understand and realize more and more of the benefits, technologies like AFL, PAL, XS Engine, Columnar store, In-Memory, etc. are all clear winners to simplify IT at the foundational level. Once I understood the opportunities, the enthusiasm kicked in, and drove me to work tirelessly on metric² through challenges, time constraints and personal issues to deliver something which I *knew* was going to be a success. Yes, by this stage the fog had set-in.

“Getting started”

Since I had started work on the metric² product on .NET/MS SQL (and had 1 customer live) it made a lot of sense for me to switch the infrastructure and re-build it on HANA. It took a bit of a learning curve, but since I had developed multiple web applications in the past, it was simple and straight forward to get up and running with XS. I also went through the OpenSAP course (from Thomas Jung) which gave me some great fundamental understanding of the core technologies and some opportunities to take advantage of. With my new found understanding and development skills I started down the road of developing metric². Sketched napkins, rough architecture drawings and random emails littered my desk describing how metric² should work, but an important I never quite decided was, what and who metric² was really for, what was my target audience and who would ultimately be my end users? Unfortunately, looking back, this was one of my biggest failures in the project and still is a challenge today.

In my next post I will chat about my 1 new requirement which everyone should have before they write a single line of code: Defining your value proposition. PS. This is relevant for any form of project (Internal, external, customer etc.)