Being strategic, rather than good

The other day I met with a great startup that has raised gobs of money and has blue chip partners up the Wazoo (a mythical, large river apparently).

What is astonishing is how totally the buck the reigning Lean theory of startups.

Not product focused, not cheap, not fast. They would probably disagree with this characterization; it isn’t flattering.

But here are some facts
– they are over 3 years old
– have never demoed the product to me
– are definitely live with some partners they enable, but at the scale of a promising angel-backed company’s deal (eg a company I met whose tech was used by Princeton Review for about a year)
– have switched focus from international to domestic, from apps to retail, from social virtual goods to hard goods – many pivots
– have at least 2 big offices thousands of miles apart
– rely entirely on massive corporate strategic customers for their products eventual distribution
– all their customers have investments and partnerships with direct competitors
– have a ten person board

This is not the feel of the super cool, lean startup of the future.

Of course these guys are doing something insanely hard requiring many partners.

But here is the real, real thing they are doing right:

They were early and totally focused on building a technology that once finished is obviously “the way things will work one day”.

Every corporate wanker knows their industry is moving to X, they know they haven’t built it internally, this company has a prototype of it working, and as long a everyone deploys it, it will rule.

So just take something you know is obviously right and technically tricky, start building it and keep telling all those monster industry players they need your amazing technology.


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