For privacy reasons, I decided to not mention official company names in this post
Last night I was having dinner with a few friends that work in private equity technology investments. Every few weeks, we enjoyed getting together and just chatting about the technology market, recent funding rounds, exciting new companies or technologies etc. While enjoying dinner I recognized somebody in the table right next to us as a business development executive from one of the NOSQL databases companies that recently raised a new financial round, for the privacy of the story let’s call the company DreamDB ;). I am personally a big fan of DreamDB and Tellago Studios’ is not only a paying customer but we use their technology as one of the foundational components of our upcoming enterprise mobility platform. I know some of DreamDB’s founders and have an immense respect for the company.
Considering those facts and the coincidence that, just minutes before, we had been talking about DreamDB’s latest funding round, I thought it would a good idea to invite that person to join us for a little bit. I waited until an opportune moment to introduce myself and congratulate her on the financial round. After thanking me her immediate response was a loud, “ohhh I know your company” which was very surprising considering we have not been very public about our use of DreamDB.
After a few introductions she quickly move closer to our table on which my friends asked her a few questions about DreamDB. Remember, these are guys that make a living investing on tech companies; they’ve heard tens of thousands of pitches and don’t easily get impressed ;). To my surprise, the girl answered the question listing DreamDB’s main investors and biggest clients. A little surprised by the answer, my friends asked more directly the problem DreamDB solves, the market, etc. Again, the response was an incoherent explanation of how DreamDB is backed by these VCs or used by these companies. Trying to present the question from another angle, my friends asked about the company mission, origins, etc and again our girl just gave us a description of DreamDB’s latest financial round. A little bit confused by her answers, we thanked her and wish her luck in her job at DreamDB.
Thinking about this story on the way home, I couldn’t avoid feeling shocked about how this girl could only describe a great product based on the story of their financial rounds or their clients. As far as I know, companies rarely embrace a product because is backed by a specific VC firm or because is used by some big name.
As an entrepreneur, it’s important to understand that the vision behind your products and the mission of your company are foundational to everything you do and completely independent of the current stage of your company or your existing customer base. Clearly stating the mission of your company and the vision behind a specific product will make your team drive together towards accomplishing those goals while staying loyal to your core values. Here is a simple sequence you can use when asked about your product or company:
- Who are the founders (team) and the mission as the company (vision)
- What problem do you solve? (problem)
- What is your current product and the vision behind it? (execution)
- What’s your customer audience, target market? (market potential)
- How is your product different from the competition? (competitive advantage)
- Optionally, list some of our current clients and best stories (execution )
- Only if it makes sense, talk about the financial composition of your company.
If nothing else, annoying situations like last night’s, are a clear reminder of the importance of clearly detailing the vision of a product and the mission and values of a company. Everything else: customers, funding rounds, partnerships are just part of the execution of your vision and goals.