try this: quit talking to investors and go build tangible value
“All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible.” -T. E. Lawrence
Roughly 2 months ago we put a temporary, yet tight lid on nearly everything financing related. It was following an epiphany we had regarding a new strategic focus, that we reevaluated the allocation of our resources. As opposed to using up valuable resources on financing activities, we decided to instead direct them towards attracting reputable customers, generating revenue, and revamping the entire product. By focusing solely on building tangible value for paying customers, we anticipated our financing story would also improve.
A week ago I received a request for our executive overview; for the first time I could barely recall when the last time was that I updated (or even thought) about that document. This request was a nice reminder for me to look back and see what type of progress we actually made during the last 2 months.
How did this experiment work out? Put mildly, these have been the most productive couple of months we’ve had so far at LockerDome.
- Revenue: We went from zero revenue to sealing paid licensing deals with more than a handful of decent sized, reputable customers (elite sports organizations).
- Useful Product: We took customer feedback and revamped the entire product, bringing it into good enough shape to satisfy the product requirements for our first launch with paying customers; the feedback from this new release has been overwhelmingly positive.
- Traction: Influential customers are now paying for and finding unique value in our product; not just liking the idea of what it could be. With that, a proven business model is emerging.
What we also noticed:
- We’re more productive: Fundraising is usually a necessary evil in startups–and is something that we’ll probably approach again soon–but it’s ridiculously time consuming to be effective with it. During financing activities, a team with limited resources can come to a near halt in many areas of the product and business. By strategically redirecting our limited resources, we were able to focus on building value for the customer as our top priority.
- We’re more valuable: Because of the results above, our own story is vastly improving. We are significantly better positioned not only to raise additional capital (when the timing makes sense), but to attract top tier employees as we begin to scale the company.
- Team morale is up: As we say in sports, it’s fun to win. In the technology world, it’s fun to build something that customers find valuable enough to not only use, but to pay for. Building for the sake of building is pointless; our customers are why we get out of bed each morning.
Back when I played competitive baseball, I received the following piece of advice:
“Do whatever you can to influence outcomes the way you’d like, but absolutely let go of anything that’s outside of your control. How you practice, do your homework, and live your life are all things under your control. What others think of you, where Coach plays you, and of course, when Coach plays you are all outside of your control.”
Our success over these last couple of months boils down to a similar philosophy. Instead of worrying our team with stuff that we can’t control, such as the economy– and more specifically, how the economy affects potential investors–we are intensely focused on the facets of our business that we can control. As a software company, within our control is our product and team, including how we use both the product and team to solve real customer problems.
As far as financing, it’s still too early to measure the exact impact because we have yet to restart these activities. Nevertheless, between tangible improvements in revenue, the product, and traction, it’s clear that this time around, the story is going to be much more fun to tell.