The Importance of Co-Founders

I’ve always worked better alone.  Maybe it’s because I’m pretty stubborn, and its in my nature to inadvertently play devils advocate with every opinion I encounter.  But today was different.  Today was a great example of why Co-Founders add so much value to a venture, and with starting Assist, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Vince and I pitched to a group of founders in a local incubator a few days ago, and got completely ripped apart.  Completely might even be an understatement.  One person in particular kept drilling us on how we are different than what’s already out there, and we thought our answer was good enough to settle the crowd, but it didn’t.  They started listing out alternatives for each case use of Assist.  Yes – they were valid, and it really got me thinking.

I’m a pretty reactive person by nature.  When an issue comes up, my mind gridlocks itself until it’s resolved.  I really need to exercise the phrase “sleep on it,” but its pretty fucking difficult.

So my initial reaction was to REALLY differentiate ourselves, so much that my mind was starting to go into what I believe is almost “desperate pivot ideas.”  I rationalized what’s not working with our platform and used it as evidence for a hard pivot.

Vince wasn’t really sold on the pivot idea, but we had a lot of good back and forth.  The issue with talking strategic direction is that a lot of it hypothetical, especially in the early stages.  You need to back up your direction with evidence, which you don’t have yet, and any amount of evidence you do have can easily be mitigated with early stage issues (bugs, difficulty of creating a marketplace etc).

At the end of the next day, I was pretty sold on making the pivot.  Vince convinced me to wait on it, and we headed to a meeting with a potential advisor / mentor.

This guy we met with was crazy excited about Assist and loved the platform.  He basically gave us a complete 180 from what we got ripped apart for earlier this week.  His thinking was along the same line as Vince’s rationale to not pivot / react, but was articulated differently.  Vince knew by instinct what he thought needed to be done, but this guy really hammered it out for the both of us.

He told us:

“There’s plenty of space in the marketplace.  It doesn’t matter if your excruciatingly different.  If you do something thats out there, just do it better than anyone else.”

Between hashing things out with Vince, and talking to this guy, I realized I may have been looking at things all wrong.  I used our target market as an anchor point, and looked to change our platform based on our perceived target market.  In reality, this guy was stoked for us because he would use it in a totally different way.  I needed to step back and assess our target market.  Who would benefit the most from what we’ve just built?  Do we have enough evidence to support an answer to that question?

No.

I don’t know what the future holds, or if I might look at this post a year from now and completely disagree with myself.  But I know that if I was doing this alone, I would have been too reactive without knowing enough about the decision I was making, and I probably would have stopped myself from being open to the new ideas presented in the meeting that forced me to take one more step back and re-assess.

Most of all – Today was a great example of why having Co-Founder(s) is so important.  I feel like we are back on track, and maybe more on track than two days ago, which is more than what you can ask for after being derailed in a room full of start-up founders.

Until next time,

-e

PS – I apologize for the super unorganized thoughts.  Just opened up my laptop and spilled words on to the page.  Hopefully most of it makes sense 🙂

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2 Comments on “The Importance of Co-Founders”

  1. Ageel Shatry says:

    Been reading all your posts. Great to see the transition from when you started your fount app to the completion. Sounds like you’ve been through a lot.

    • evanmayoblog says:

      Thanks Ageel! It’s been a wild ride to say the least. Hoping to capture all these moments as they come, rather than in retrospect 🙂


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