I linked to this last week but wanted to highlight this specific passage from Mark Suster’s post entitled Why You Need To Ring The Freaking Cash Register:
Some businesses take time to find their magic. And I only know one reason companies go out of business – they run out of money. Delaying going out of business gives you way more chances at product / market fit than any other strategy I know of.
I’m a freaking master at not going out of business! I’ve been not going out of business for longer than most companies have been in business. Hell, my kids haven’t been around as long as I’ve been not going out of business.
In 2006 it became apparent that powerOne was going to struggle to make us a living, let alone change the world. The problem was I didn’t have anything better.
I could have changed my thesis — that the tools we use for working with numbers hadn’t changed since the advent of the personal computer even though the personal computer had — but felt that changing the world of numbers was an audacious goal that impacted all segments of life: how we work, how we live and how we learn. I didn’t want to start a new thesis from scratch.
So we bided our time. We tried other products, a web education platform called MathPoint that almost got us acquired then a powerOne-like platform called FastFigures focused on the data. We also experimented with two or three other ideas that didn’t make it off the ground.
We kept moving forward. We worked hard on versions of powerOne for iOS, Android and Tizen. We learned Rails and did contract work to fill the financial gaps. We rebuilt our skill set around modern languages for the day when we had the right idea. We kept our tiny little team, reduced from 13 in 2003 to 2 in 2006, together.
Many people thought I was mad. I saw the steps as ends to a means, a long planned out path that most people couldn’t see. I knew, if I just didn’t go out of business, that all the learning, all the experiences and all the observations would coalesce into an unmistakably earth-shaking product.
More on that tomorrow.
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