I have been very fortunate and privileged to be a part of a cool tech journey with an inspired man and his team for the last 6 years. I have learned a lot of hard personal lessons during this time and gained a lot of wisdom. Something reminded me today of an interesting scenario from about 4 years back. I was trying to connect us with the founder of a large software company that would benefit and like what we had to offer. I happen to know the owner/founder of this firm so after some time thinking about it I called him and asked him to introduce me to the right person at his company. He did. But not before he said to me, “I would like to invest.”
This put in an uncomfortable situation because I was not calling about investments, and also, it was not my place to make such a call. No one was looking for investment and this was not something I was well equipped to handle. But I did make a text connection between the two founders and I did not waste anyone’s time. I did stress that no one was looking for money etc. I was only calling to try and find the right person in his company to show the product to.
What struck me about my call is that I had heard this a few times before. People would say to me, “You need investment.” or, “You will never get anywhere without big funding.” or, “You are wasting time. You need to go big.” And so on. You get the idea. I never ever said anything about needing money or wanting investment, etc.
“The time you enjoy wasting, is not wasted time.” – John Lennon
Perhaps I just sounded excited about something and they wanted to get involved. Which is fair enough. But so many times I was told how dumb we all were, and how we were never going to get anywhere. Perhaps they were right.
What I do know is this. If the purpose in life is to get as much money as fast as you can, then sure, throw lots of funding at something, hype it to the maximum, and try exit with a bunch of cash. But then what? Is the aim then to do it all over again. And again. And Again. If you love what you are doing and you are driven by a sense of purpose then who thinks of exiting. My parents never heard of the term “exit strategy”. Where did these curious words come from? And why are these two words so popular. I really don’t get it.
I remember telling my tech friend a story about another guy who said to me quite forcefully that we don’t know what we are doing. I think at the time the venture had around 600 customers. We are talking mainly Fortune 1000 type of companies. Today there over 1000 customers. My friend said to me, “We got this far without knowing what we were doing. Imagine if we did know what we were doing.” We both giggled a bit.
This thing about exiting something you love is very curious. Do you exit a marriage because you then aim to get married again. And again. And again. If you love something or someone, then why do you exit?
You can’t hurry love and you can’t rush building a business. Creating a company with a magical culture and a healthy set of a values, while trying to make a difference in the world, is not the same as making a buck.