Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Startup Run

Instagram was acquired by Facebook for $1 Billion - roughly Rs.5000 Crores - we usually hear these numbers only from Scams. This set me thinking about money - and is it what we should all be running after?

Before I get into money I want to share an important lesson I learnt on Running.Whenever I start with an end goal saying today I will run 8Kms, or will run 5 Kms within 30 minutes - I have a very bad run.

I will get exhausted fast, I will get angry with myself as midway when I check I will realize that I am not going to reach my goal and I will start running harder. My mood and run will be on a downward spiral at that point onwards and I will end my run frustrated and depressed. Every single time I had set this kind of a goal - the end result is the same.

However, the days when I am in a great mood and I run freely and simply enjoy the run - I run really really well. I do not get exhausted, I do not tire, my timing is great, and I can keep running longer distances.

A goal is important - but I should not let it become my boss and start dictating me.

Likewise I have to come to realize the same thing in running our Startup.

We do have a sales target,  but our team does not get stressed out if we do not achieve this number. We had a guess-the-number-of-wins-by-Diwali contest last year ! ( ahemm I lost to our Accounts Champion who guessed accurately.  Sangeeta refused to participate calling this Juvenile but she did monitor closely through out!  )

We have started focusing entirely on solving our customer's problems and not go by the traditional sales goals. Early in the cycle we try to understand the problem and if we realize that our product was not the right fit - we directed them to other sites and solutions.

We connected our customers with Auditors, Lawyers, Rain Water Harvesting Experts, STP Experts, Facility Management Experts, Accountants and introduced them to other Management Committees who had walked their path. When they needed an Estate Manager, even though they did not use our portal, we sent them leads.

Guess what? We have customers increasingly returning to us. We not only met our goal, we exceeded it.

Now when I tie these 2 string of thoughts together - running and running a startup - the similarities are not surprising : When I enjoy my run the goal is achieved automatically.

This brings out another important angle to a Bootstrapped startup. We do not have a ticking bomb tied to our back - the equivalent of a 8km / 5kms in 30 minutes goal. We have the luxury of concentrating on solving our customer's problems and building the ecosystem - training managers and accountants - and doing what brings maximum fun to the team.

And this run is what I call the Startup Run - and I am enjoying the run thoroughly.

Closing the loop on Instagram - if they had their primary goal as $1Billion - they would not have achieved it for sure - in the process the team would have got stressed and burnt out. They were so obsessed creating a kickass photo sharing + social network app that FB got threatened -  and finally bought them out.

So what are you running after?

1 comment:

  1. That's a great perspective. I'm sure all the admired companies set out to build something that was best in class and business followed. If something is dead useful and usable, it will find its path to monetization. Instagram had zero revenues after all..