Which Deep-End to Jump Into

ConnectSolutions is not on this list
Credit: Meg Pickard

In early 2007, I was beginning to get ready to depart the warm blanket of my former employer to dive into freezing start-up waters.  There was still a huge amount of Web 2.0 startup-excitement here in California, and I was a amazed at the number of “companies” trying to be successful on what amounted to a small feature vs. a sustainable business.  I saw an endless stream of them come through Adobe at the time hoping that our conversations would end up in acquisition.  Instead, it ended up being a great education for me and highlighting what became a pretty common blueprint for these web 2.0 companies:

  • Identify a feature, and build a service around it
  • Call yourself a company, and then raise a bunch of money to drive users and usage
  • Hope to be acquired before anyone realized you didn’t have a sustainable business model

I am almost as guilty as the people on the list above, since I tried to develop a business using that same model.  Fortunately, along the way, I had the opportunity to pitch the idea (a CRM-related concept) to the godfather of CRM himself, Tom Siebel.  About one minute into my pitch, my hopes and dreams for this “next-big-thing” in CRM were destroyed when the conversation went something like this:

“Michael, I get it.  It’s a good idea, and there’s a need for it.  However, if I saw that in the market, I’d put a few engineers on it and give it away for free as part of my CRM suite.”

The painful but correct translation:  “It’s a feature, not a business.”  That pretty much ended the discussion on that topic, but since I had his attention for the next couple of minutes, we ended up talking about the various kinds of businesses one could go after when starting something new, and why I really wanted to jump into the startup experience.  I was able to quickly conclude that I wasn’t interested in a feature-business (my internal monologue after that first minute of pitch was clear), nor a business predicated on being acquired, so that left me with one clear idea:  build a sustainable business based on stand-alone profitability.

In a future post, I’ll talk about my experience in trying to identify what that “sustainable business” was going to be, and how I arrived with my co-founder at the idea for ConnectSolutions.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_SiebelIT’s a

Two+ Years Later…

Photo By Gleb Tarro

This blog has been dormant for more than two years now, which is easily explained:  my adventures with ConnectSolutions have been a complete consumer of time.  Fortunately, it has been an incredible experience, and I now find myself extremely proud of what we our team has accomplished to-date, and more than ever, I’m fired-up about the opportunities ahead.

A quick recap of what’s happened at the company.  In the previous two and half years, we have:

…and we are just getting started!  It’s been an incredible journey over these “short” two+ years, and I’ve learned an incredible amount from our successes and failures.  Time allowing, I’m going to try to share some of those experiences on this blog as payback to the many resources I found on the web which led to my eventual decision to jump into the start-up world.  I hope you enjoy.