The tech industry is overly-obsessed with making noise, being self-congratulatory and too often, focused on the wrong things. We look at PR as a big win. We celebrate financings (although we also spill plenty of digital ink about not celebrating them too; and yet they’re common on tech news sites).
There’s a time and place for making noise about your startup, but you’ve gotta be clear on whether you’re doing it to feed your own ego and make yourself feel good, or if you’re doing it strategically for some understood and measurable benefit. Making noise can definitely help–but more often than not we do it for the former reasons and not the latter: we want to feel important, we want people to recognize our “accomplishments”.
One of my best portfolio companies has never publicly launched.
And yet, if we compared their metrics to a lot of similar companies (and others in my portfolio), I’d bet they would be on top. They’re absolutely killing it. Why? Because they’re 100% focused on their users and providing an awesome experience. Press, publicity, blogging, tweeting, shouting from rooftops, etc. doesn’t help them. In this particular case their customer isn’t an early tech adopter either, which is even more reason to ignore the “rah rah” bubble we live in and stay focused on real growth.
This portfolio company has also raised two rounds of financing. The last round was a good size and brought in some of the top investors out there. It might have been a bit harder to get investors’ attention without being in the tech news cycle every few months, but their team + mission + traction got them to the right people, and those people invested.
When you finally hear about this company in the tech world, they’ll have already won.
That’s my goal for them. They’ll have ironed out the wrinkles, solved most of the hard problems, and they’ll be scaling like crazy. They’ll have an unfair advantage over everyone else that invested any iota of their time making noise about what they were doing–because the noise doesn’t drive results.
Launching a startup is almost a silly concept. It’s a single point in time that has almost no bearing on the ultimate success of your business. But it can actually lead you down the wrong path to failure, getting you caught up in things that don’t really matter. Launching doesn’t solve your #1 problem (whatever it might be).
Most people are swayed by the spotlight, by the opportunity to be recognized as an awesome entrepreneur who’s doing something amazing. We’re almost uncontrollably attracted to the celebrity of startups. But unless you can genuinely draw a line between your public efforts and your startup’s success, you’re wasting valuable time. Launch your startup when you’ve already won. Hell, don’t even bother launching–just build an insanely awesome business, and the right people, investors, partners and acquirers will know what’s going on.