— Advice for the young at heart
Soon we will be older
When we gonna make it work? …
— Tears For Fears
Yesterday was the 9th birthday of the first company I created. Actually I co-founded it with my partner-in-crime and current CTO of MarketGoo (Jose Miguel aka “Da Vinci” Perez).
Although I do not consider myself in the position of giving serious advice to anyone other than myself, this is a great excuse to celebrate and look back at my entrepreneurial learnings. First of all, thank you for all those greetings I received on Linkedin*.
Connecting the dots
Steve Jobs was right guys!! Yes, the tech Messiah taught us about connecting the dots. MarketGoo is less than 4 years old, but nine years ago we started about thinking of it. Not like we are doing today, but we launched services to help businesses improve their online results and website success. We designed packs of services when mostly nobody (SMB owners) knew what SEO meant other than “My website is not on Google?”. All the founding ideas about processes and MarketGoo’s current underlying reporting technology started there. We created our first SEO report back in 2009. Soon after, we merged the company with a website building company with more than 10.000 websites. Again, we had a blast of information on what websites would need that helped us building MarketGoo.
What I do today, may not have an immediate impact of the business, but I am adding dots to the basket
Regrets, I’ve had a few …
Failure sucks, being pissed off at your co-founders sucks (not the case with “Da Vinci” Perez), lack of traction sucks. All of that sucks, but no regrets for me other than not having more perspective on what was I learning during those times.
The Failure experience is a like a car turbo. It will boost your decisions and improve your intuition. You are doing lots of stuff and that experience will not appear in your P&L, not in your company balance sheet but it will rise up and back you up next time.
It will shape your future, show gratitude. Move on my friend, move on.
We’ve come too far to give up who we are
We have created and are building a great culture at MarketGoo. All those past experiences provided us with a path to build our culture. Happiness, controlled growth, personal impact and lifestyle were first, money will come. Canned corporate culture was something I never took into consideration. It didn’t make sense to me paying friday food for the team while their faces showed fear and lack of trust. Culture is about life, about meaning, and what is more important than that? Money? Money we want, money is a tool, not a destination. A ping-pong table makes a lot of noise.
You don’t have to do things different just for the sake of that. But there is music behind all of that noise. I learned not to compare my achievements and worked hard listening to my inner thoughts. You can raise money, in fact sometimes it’s the only way to build your project, but bootstrapping a company is a rewarding decision. No pain, no gain, more pain, more gain.
Our main competitor raised, rumours say, around 10 million euros. Their team is 5-6 times our team. When you see those type of news, the mass media shout about that. People correlates raising money to success. And at some point, investors are not silly. To invest a significant amount of money, you have to demonstrate traction, but traction and growth becomes your main goal. If you get millions you are supposed to add somehow 10 times value to that investment in a matter of 5 years?. That ends up burning money like hell, covering all the events, channels, countries and product variations, etc.
Can you burn your ass and build real company culture? Based on my experience, the answer is no. Are you in for the money or life?
I cannot think of a version of MarketGoo other than bootstrapped. We are in a market with long time to market. We have lived in the slow SaaS ramp of death** for too long (Gail, thank you, you are my heroine!). Would investors have had patience for that? We are not in the slow ramp anymore, we are growing at a healthy rate and have been for months and it feels really great. We are earning money and we have great plans to impact our culture with that money.
That impact means better products, better customer service, more productivity, more family time, more personal growth, project identification and money will come to support all of that.
It is not what you do but why you do it – Simon clever guy
We are young, and will always be (at heart). I am happy today. I am ready for what’s next.
*(BTW, I also love automation, but please it would be great if you take time to add a personal note other than the standard greeting LOL!).
** All the acronyms get to us sometimes, so here is an explainer of what it means when we say we’re a SaaS company.