I’m tempted to put a megaphone to our lips and holler about one of the quiver of exciting things that have happened to us recently. That’s what we’re meant to do on a company blog, right?
“We’re awesome because of X or Y”. “This is why you should listen to us.” “The mysteries of cold fusion are history due to the inspirational discoveries we’ve made through breathtaking innovation and slavish work…” etc.
I’m not so sure. I rarely learn from people for whom their blog is the icing on the cake. I want to know what people felt and did when making their first pudding. The one that exploded, or when someone accidentally set the oven to C rather than F. That’s where businesses and entrepreneurs truly are forged – and where blogs are most interesting, rather than just decoration.
My hope is that the dissection of our issues and learning is where we can provide most value to the reader.
We’re a 4-year old company, on a mission (who isn’t). If hockey sticks are your metric of success, we should have IPO’d, died or figured out way more by now. But we’ve taken it slowly.
Yes, you read that right. Slowly. In a speed-addicted sector, that’s akin to admitting a penchant for incest. Sure, we’d have loved to have impaled others with our unicorn’s horn but, like most, we haven’t. Ours has not been the story of seamless execution from inspiration to explosive growth. We’ve re-painted the name above our door a few times, reversed out of some dead-ends and navigated choppy waters. That, despite what breathless tech journalists might tell you, is normal. We’re still here, stronger than ever, with a long and winding road ahead of us, whichever path we take.
I am tempted to reassure you by bringing to your attention what we do have – it’s hard not to mention funding, or our team – I feel the need to justify our existence. But today, let’s just leave our status as that. Still here and stronger than ever. You’ll have to trust me.
Enough of the circumlocution. Why are we still passionate about this problem?
We are obsessed by people. We believe that people and relationships, rather than data say, are what makes the world go round. We believe that when the right people find each other, amazing things happen. Yet it’s painfully hard to find the ‘right people’. In this world of AI, instant pocket-based knowledge, screen obsessiveness, an app-for-everything and space travel – it is pretty extraordinary that I still don’t know much about the people in my network, or who I might want to know. Billions of dollars and (wo)man hours are poured into recruitment, marketing, networking, dating and so on. Yet our knowledge of our networks is usually left to memory, or social media where the noisiest, not the most valuable, are most noticeable. The time spent looking and making poor decisions about people pains us. It doesn’t have to be this way.
As a company, we’re looking for a few new team members. I’m confident that between our team – who’ve worked at many of the top tech companies – we know everyone we need. Yet finding these new people is tortuous. Days can be spent researching, truffling out likely candidates. Interrupting team members for hours at a time to help us determine who they know, how they know them and whether their suitable. Every CEO, entrepreneur and manager I meet has the same problem. People. Some realise this explicitly and obsess. Others leave it to external agents, job boards or to chance.
I joke there are two rules to startups:
1) Find amazing people. 2) see 1).
The deeper I delve, the more I believe it. So why is it so hard to find amazing people? They’re there, but uncovering them is a struggle.
So we’re focused, obsessively, on this problem. How can we help the right people find each other? What could be achieved if more Steve & Woz’s, Batman & Robin’s, Beatles etc came together? How can we help the right people find each other?
We’ve made an early start with Wholi – it’s particularly valuable for those looking for investors, or developers (of the software variety) but you can also use it to search your contacts, or get referrals – all for free.
It’s our current guess as to how we might begin to solve this problem – getting it in front of people and trying to learn as much as we possibly can. It’s a hard process, finding and cajoling busy people to use something that’s been put together with the software-equivalent of sticky tape and cereal boxes. We have no idea if we’re following the right process, or if our prototype is the right one. There’s a whole literature in how to try to find the right fit. A thousand, often conflicting, ways to go about the same process. We have ours. We’re doing our best. It’s proving fun. We’re learning and slowly chinks of light appear.
We are getting high on our own supply and it’s working. Yet our ambition is so much bigger than that. Who do you know? What could you do if you could find the right teacher, therapist, lover… For now, come and check out where we’ve got to and I look forward to slowly but surely helping solve this problem for you, once and all.