Blessing in the curse: how bad things turn to be the best things along the way.
Over the course of the last 2 years, an idiomatic expression “blessing in disguise” has messed with my mind a multitude of times.
Even more so, while watching one of the episodes of Shark Tank — where enthusiastic and well-prepared entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas to either expand or save their business — I heard another phrase, which illustrated my entrepreneurial experience even better. “Blessing in the curse” — is what has been happening to me and my business partner Eugene down the line.
An eruption of reality — is how I would describe the things of the nature that came our way. Since we set off looking for a strategic partner for our business, a whole bunch of literature, video and peer-to-peer recommendations was taken into consideration. Unfortunately, being in the shadow of our own truth and fears, merely nothing helped us understand our true weak-zones. We learned it the hard way, which is BTW — as per Seth Godin’s viewpoint — the only legitimate way to realize what you do wrong and hamstring your mistakes.
One of the biggest challenges we had by the time of presenting our business to outside experts, was a delusional claim that “we’ve got it” (under our total control). For every single startup in existence there can be nothing more harmful than thinking you know what to do, how to do, and the most dangerous — what will happen in the years to come.
Tim Ferris once said that there is no one worse thing you can do than thinking you know enough.
Built on this notion, we were seeking for people, who would buy our vision, and not really our existing project. It was like “relax, just invest and see how the magic happens. With us in the driver seat, it’s a sweet ride to 8X multiplier, so we want you to trust us.” Unfortunately (or fortunately) we were brought to life by simple yet sobering questions like “what is your main strengths in the light of competitors”, “what is the guarantee you will be keeping up with the set agenda”, “how can we know this SEO thing will work and how will you protect the investor’s risk”?
The last two questions laid the surface for our complete re-thinking of the pitch-deck. One of the serial investors I look up to and listen carefully is Arkadiy Moreynes, who keeps saying that young enterprises, when looking for financing, really like to tell you how the money will be spent, rather than how it will be regenerated to safeguard the investor’s payout. And that’s rightfully so. At the beginning, our project was more about the expenses, whereas the real way to drive home that sweet strategic partner is to explain his gain. What we did was simply cleaning all the dust about the fancy-super revenue triggers, and put up a crystal clear dividends distribution slide, which conveyed our willingness to pay our debt first (always liked by any investor), and cut the cake in proportions with other stakeholders afterwards. This not to mention how we proportioned the growth of the company and assigned KPIs to specific periods so that an investor could keep track.
In a conventional investor’s practice, venture stakes are as high as the expectations for a 30x ROI. Simply speaking, the one and only business to supply a 30x return for its investor basically compensates for 30 unsuccessful tries he has made. Our expansion model, however, shies away from such a storyline. What we did have problems with — was finding a pragmatic investor, under the flashlights of the moderate sustainability we were offering. If there’s ever a choice to involve into a high-volatility start-up or a systematic, profitable business with well-established processes — an investor will pick the start-up.
Such an investment mentality was a damper on the things for us, or, shifting back to my kicking quote — “a curse”. The silver lining in this cloud was something I can not help but explaining as “the luck to find a similarly-thinking person”. The fact of the matter, though, is that the one individual we got lucky with was more of a systematic businessman, who knew, set, and enjoyed building new things. Perhaps more fun for him was scaling these enterprises up to multi-millions revenue machines by means of his strategic guidelines, and at the same time not too intrusive approach, that most startups suffer from with VCs. Such a well-oiled machine that he managed to engineer in his primary business, now comprises top-of-the-line decentralized product subsidiaries operating across the globe and generating more than 50 million per year in total revenue.
Having been granted a pass to the company’s resources that contributed into building an uncompromised empire in technological and media realm — we’ve become students again. What we currently do is filling up our brains with various corporate information amassed by our older brothers, learning to become HR experts as well as injecting ourselves with managerial hacks to strengthen leadership and decision-making skills. Ken Robinson once told that contemporary world’s people are most afraid to show that they are not informed, therefore, can’t publicly recognize they don’t know something. A major problem of social communication nowadays is not being able to concede you don’t know stuff, and hence not being able to receive help since people don’t simply know you need it.
Well — we need it. I am adamant that the 3 years of professional experience from the tipping to the current point of our business has not been worthless. Now, however, we have a one-of-a-kind opportunity to exercise what we learned and set it against the reality we are about to experience: the reality of aggressive and explosive development on all levels of our work. The newest techniques will pass rigid tests for workability, while our personal qualities will be reinforced in an extraordinary manner. The sky is the limit for the production company that brings value. And this is precisely who we are — the best-suited people to help other people world over delivering our remarkable product.
Steve Job’s “connecting dots backwards” theory works for us, and works well. You could never know where a particular sequence of events might take you to. My own theory though — the notion of “blessing in the curse” — has passed its test for me personally even better. I have witnessed how seemingly bad things in the life events get you to the sweet zones in future, shapes your character, and makes you resistant to whatever surprises the life has to offer.
SO, WITH SUCH A VISION — LET THE NEXT CHAPTER OF THE STORY BEGIN.