I’ve always felt that making startups is a lot like making movies.
You get (or write) a story you want to tell, a producer, a director, actors, a crew, you go into production, post/editing, distribution/sales, marketing and you either have a hit or not. Most are not. If you have a hit, you want to go do it again with the same people. If you don’t, you still want to do it again. I met Bob Ezrin this week (producer of The Wall, Alice Cooper, etc…) and he agreed, “that’s called production.” Wicked.
You can measure the whole exercise in months. Kobo was 24 to sale, 12 before that as we were incubated. 50 months until i stepped down. DocSpace was 24 to sale, etc. Every month counts. Momentum matters.
Month One at Everlong has been an absolutely amazing time.
There are few things like the experience of diving into something entirely uncertain, attempting to envision the future, and giving birth to a new concept, that with will, you make real. When you build a company like we did at Kobo, there’s always a point when things slow down and become a little less creative. Pretty natural, especially after an acquisition. All of a sudden its been 4+ years and you are spending 90% of your week not creating anything new. BAM. Then it’s over. 30 days later and the world is different.
We’ve got some great momentum now at Everlong.
In fact, its amazing how much you can drive in a month when you are revv’ed up, and you’ve had a few wins under your belt to build on. Office space, infrastructure (google apps, aws, slack, wordpress, 15five, asana, social…etc), legal, tax, branding/pr agencies, ideation, business planning, product planning, research, over 100 meetings with potential recruits, partners, investors etc, and the all important launch plan. We’ve made incredible progress.
I thought i would share some of the (typical) things people have said to me in month one, so you get a glimpse of my last 30 days. If you are an entrepreneur, you know what i am talking about so you can skip to the bottom.
“So…what are you doing in there. Tell me, what is it?”
Seriously dude? You want me to tell you in our first month, when beyond setting our vision, mission, and objectives….the whole thing changes everyday? Seriously dude? You want me to tell you my newest little secret? Dude, seriously. You think I want to be judged by you in my most precious, moment of inception? No thanks. I am working on revolutionizing earth with the internet of things with spaceships and aliens and Godzilla. ….that’s right.
“So… is there a process you use to manufacture that A-HA! moment?”
Uhhhhhhhh, what the f—?
“Can we meet for a coffee/lunch/etc?”
As much as I like people, and i like coffee, and i like talking….I am in the crucible right now. This time is incredibly valuable. Outside of my dear friends and family (who I will always try to make time for), this is often more about people wanting to know what you’re doing, which translates to time away from your month one. And every second counts so I am very careful with this kind of time. You get it.
This is a way for people to again judge you by who’s on your team, and see if there’s a place for them. Totally understandable. My answer: people who can compete, and win.
“This space is so much more complicated. You don’t know anything about it”
No….kidding…Thank you for the advice. I knew zip about publishing/media before Kobo. Or telecom before Critical Path. Or storage before DocSpace. New, I welcome. Complicated, I can handle. I’ll take a few smart guys, a rocket scientist or two….over a bunch of people that live in the current bureaucracy. Maybe naiive, but that’s me. I think it is often best to have a fresh set of eyes, and brains unencumbered by the “system”
“This space needs people like you and your team”
Very nice to hear (thanks to my Mom, and other people that care about us).
“You know, past success is not an indicator of future success”
Is that really true? Let’s not get into a random walk/brownian motion discussion. I think you’re just being mean. Of course we know that.
“That’s never going to work”
Ahh…thank you. The translation inside my brain: “this is an awesome opportunity that no one has figured out yet, or wanted to take the risk in disrupting. Double awesome. Lets go!”
“You’re going to get killed”
One of my faves….as in “Sony is going to kill you [kobo]”…I say, Bring it.
“How can i invest?”
Now you’re talking. But we don’t really need outside money in month one. Still flattering and appreciated. Thank you.
“You’re not seriously calling the company that, are you?”
What…? You don’t like Everlong? One person i met asked me why i didn’t choose an .xxx suffix? That was hilarious 🙂 Truth be told, the name almost always changes. Kobo was Shortcovers. DocSpace was Intrasect. Zip2 was Global Link Information… So choosing the initial name might as well be a song you love. Hence, Everlong.
So…there’s a glimpse of Month One. Building new companies is what I love. The world needs more people doing it, I think. People will build you up, and try to hack you down all the same. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. You just keep moving toward the target. Month two is upon us. More are joining. We already need more space. I look forward to telling you about who’s joining the project over the next month, because ultimately I believe the team is the most important determining factor to your success — MS