Dan Shipper: Every Sustainable Business Follows From Solid Fundamentals

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Founder Story

The following are excerpts from Dan Shipper’s “Why I’m Doing It All Wrong,” a blog post that I found very inspiring.

“Swing for the fences” & “Scale as quickly as possible”

These are fundamental assumptions of startup building. From these come our conventional startup wisdom:

“Leave school” & “Raise money”

For a long time I accepted the “leave school and raise money” argument because I assumed that “swing for the fences” and “scale as quickly” as possible were inviolable tenets of company building. But it turns out they’re not inviolable. They’re not even tenets. They’re just a common way of thinking about how to do a startup.

I’m naturally interested in business. I’m naturally interested in coding and design. I’m naturally interested in writing.

And so my goal is this: to be able to do those things sustainably, for the rest of my life.

Home runs by definition aren’t sustainable. They’re not predictable. Sometimes you hit one, but most of the time you don’t. That part of things is mostly out of your control.

Because it’s out of my control and not sustainable, I’m not focused on it. For that matter I’m not interested in anything that’s not sustainable.

So what can be counted on?  Every successful business follows from solid fundamentals. Customers, money, funding. And that’s what I’m concentrated on.

What I’m spending my time doing now is this: learning how to build a real business. And by real, I mean a business that has money coming in the door from day one. Businesses that make money can be started in any investment climate. They don’t go out of style.

That’s why we’re holed up in an office in Philly for $650 a month working 14-hours a day this summer. That’s the goal.

I think there’s a time and place for raising money. I think there’s a time and a place to go for broke. So when I’m asked why I haven’t left school and raised money this is generally my reply:

I’m going to get into the big game eventually. But right now I’m working on perfecting my crossover dribble.

I want to get good at this stuff. And I know that I can do that without leaving school, and without raising money.


I originally posted these on the Bootstrapper Breakfast E-mail list which led Luke Teyssier to comment:

Thank you for a voice of sanity. Dropping out of college to get funding makes about as much sense as dropping out to join a baseball team. A very small few will hit the big leagues, but most would have been better off getting a solid foundation.

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