"Ideas worth spreading" is the tagline for the popular TED (Talks) organization. We've been incredibly inspired by their profound presentations, and often daydream about what we would say if we had a chance to share.
When we were given a second opportunity to speak at 1 Million Cups (1MC), a couple of weeks ago, we knew we wanted to follow in their footsteps and use it as a soapbox for lessons and ideas worth spreading.
RFP365 presents at 1 Million Cups - Kansas City
1MC is something like a large scale support group for entrepreneurs. (Find your nearest one here). It's a place where startups are invited to come pitch their ideas and companies, they have 6 minutes to present and 20 minutes for Q&A. Their vulnerability and courage is rewarded with constructive feedback, and support from the group. Our first 1MC presentation was 2 years ago, and we were absolutely blown away by all the insight and help we received.
This being our second time around, we decided to mix it up a bit. Rather than go on about us and our RFP software, we wanted to share what we've learned. As legendary coach Vince Lombardi once said, "It's not whether you get knocked down, it's whether you get back up."
In other words, the story of what we've done wrong...and what we learned from it.
One of our co-founders Stuart Ludlow shared the tale of our mistakes.
Past belief: "the whole world is our market."
Present conviction: there is a real difference between identifying a market and knowing your market.
Past belief: there is a "right" product price point.
Present conviction: the "right" price point will always be changing, and someone will always disagree and tell you it's too expensive. It's fluid and relative.
Past belief: customers don't care about infrastructure, just the bottom line.
Present conviction: customers want to know you're going to be around if they need you. So they want you to have enough money to build (they want you to fundraise), and hire a team (not two guys in a basement) of people they can count on.
Bottom line: at the end of the day, your goal as a new company isn't to follow a wishful trajectory, it's simply to do whatever is necessary to "not die."
Those are some of the practicals we've learned. But the greatest lesson we realized is that failure isn't what you think it is.
Failure isn't "not getting it right the first time around" (what most of us subconsciously believe and expect).
You won't get it right the first time. Because there really isn't a "right" when it comes to a product or service. There is, doing everything you know to do, and being genuinely committed to getting better every day. Recognize daily wins and losses, and grow.
We've learned having to rethink something isn't necessarily failure, it's growth.
I had a boss tell me once "if you don't work yourself out of this job [and into another], you're fired."
He was right. Throwing out Plan A doesn't mean it was unsuccessful, it means you've evolved beyond plan A.
Failure to recognize failure is arrogance. It's thinking you've arrived. It's refusing to learn, and not asking smart people (including your customers) what you can do better.
Basically, we've learned to: ask, listen, evolve, and keep moving forward.
Hear our confession for yourself.
(We begin at the 29: 27 minute mark)
Want to see the platform behind the lessons?