Fortunes are built during the down market and collected in the up market.
- Jason Calacanis
Attention all developers: what you sell in the market are not your coding skills.
Let’s use an extreme example to illustrate: it is 2004, you are Mark Zuckerberg, you are working on something called “The Facebook”, and I offer you $250K a year to code up some software. You must choose. Should you take it? In hindsight, of course not. Not because $250K per year would not have been an amazing compensation package for a kid still in college…you will not take the offer because it would preclude you of pursuing a multi-billion dollar opportunity. There is an opportunity cost to those $250K, no matter how sweet they look.
It is now 2012 and you could have been at Instagram, instead of grabbing that nice Kodak salary. You could have been at OMGPOP instead of on the Electronic Arts payroll. If you are a software developer in the startup scene it is your professional duty to find those bats out of hell and grab on for dear life. If an employer puts a ring on your finger, they are compensating you for the opportunities you are forsaking to do something else. Your coding skills are simply the price of admission. What you are really selling is that you are no longer pursuing an even better opportun. And you’d better charge for that.
It has been a hell of week. On Wednesday our team wrote like hell to submit a federal grant proposal. I was depleted. Exhausted. Mind blank.
Yet that was not all…on Friday I had another deadline, this time for the Enterprize Business Plan Competition. So on Thursday morning I fired up iWork Pages, stared at a blank screen, and let it rip. I did have a financial model done already, so I had it all in the head…it just had to pour out over the next 36 hours. Thirty minutes before the deadline, I race to my car to deliver the paper copies…and found it…blocked by another car. I leapt over the valet parking dudes, who, fortunately, were behind the blockage, and I spoke in that wailing tone that tells you, “Do This NOW!” Through the miraculous power of Divine Providence, I made it at 4:57pm, three minutes before the deadline. Let me tell you…I broke all available traffic laws, but I made it.
What I learned is that when you really want it, you will make it happen.
What I learned is that Clearshore is a really good concept. Writing the business plan taught me that.
What I learned is that I am blessed beyond conception, being at the right place at the right time with the right team. I am stunned. Amazed. Thankful!
Now that our Clearshore team made it to the semifinals of Guayacán’s Enterprize Business Plan Competition, it is worth considering the sage words of Mike Maples, one of Twitter’s seed investors. This talk is extraordinary in its focus on the Business Model Discovery as the essential task of startups, and the sheer balls it takes to pivot, to make strategically gut-wrenching changes to your business model in order to discover the optimal one. This stuff matters. If your recall, Netscape drove traffic to Yahoo, back when the optimal business model for the internet was not known. Netscape is now a mere memory, whereas Yahoo, though weak, is a public company valued at $21B.
And remember when Yahoo drove volume for Google? It turns out the latter had a better business model and is now valued at $195B. So courage in abandoning what you have is an essential feature of kick-ass entrepreneurs. Wow…at least now we know what our true job is.