I am a software engineer working at a startup of less than 5 years that has a mildly successful software that brings in enough money to keep the lights on and everybody paid. I am currently the only software development employee at the moment.
I work pretty closely with my manager who was actively seeking opportunities to expand new software product ideas with a focus on our core competencies and proven technical solutions that we do well.
I feel lately that things are flying wildly off track. I am being brought into sales pitch meetings with customers for ideas that only vaguely resemble the original business plan and enter into areas that are not our strengths. The sales guys all have a positive can-do attitude so I hold back on my fears until I get time for a followup meeting with them and they do not seem to understand when I tell them that they are overcommitting and downplaying the complexity of what they are selling. It is all new ground too so we have little to build off of from our original products.
Further when I present the hurdles to them they just assume that their is some "third-party component" that can be easily plugged in so that these ideas can be implemented quickly. Most of the time there isn't.
On top of that, they are talking with MANY different potential customers, which is good because you want to hedge your bets, but what if they all want to sign tomorrow and they all want what they are promising in less than 6 months? It would be a disaster, they don't have enough money to hire me a team or even the very necessary hardware I need in house to do the kinds of work they are committing ourselves too. I understand venture captial can make these happen after a deal is signed, but if you have to deliver in 5 months and there is still no team, it would be at least 3 months to get a SD team together and fully trained to actually tackle the project!
I won't even get into how terrified I am by the "quality" of the customers they are talking to. Over the phone their needs are simple, you meet with them in person and suddenly what they are asking for morphs into PeopleSoft and the sales guys don't know how to say no.
I am having a lot of anxiety lately and was wondering if I am just worrying about nothing. The sales guys seem disgustingly optimistic about this all but I can't seem to shake this sense of a painful foreboding in the company's future. Do you feel that the sales guys are making the best choice for the company, or should they be more conservative?
Is it better for a startup to focus on its core competencies and vision, or wildly swing at every possible opportunity that vaguely resembles the company mission?