Matt Wensing On Making the Transition to Growth
Stormpulse has gone from an idea bootstrapped on founder savings and credit cards, to a project funded by friends and family rounds, to a small business strengthened by angel money, to a company that’s raised “meaningful” capital (our last round was just over $2 million). Here’s what I’ve learned since I’ve been able to leave the ‘drowning and can’t work on the important things’ mode.
Matt Wensing in “What I’ve Learned Since Raising Capital“
Matt Wensing has been bootstrapping Stormpulse since September of 2004 (“What Have I Been Doing?!“) He offers some short thoughts on what he has learned since raising capital and I wanted to highlight four:
Small for the sake of small is as bad as big for the sake of big.
Small for the sake of small is letting the desire for control or other perfectionist tendencies trump everything else.
The question isn’t “Stay small or go big?”
It’s: “Is the vision scalable & worth scaling?”
This is a key insight that most entrepreneurs overlook in their calculations of whether to seek funding. It’s not about whether you need it, it’s whether the plan merits and requires it.
Existential: Walking around the office, hearing other people having conversations that used to only be in my head.
If you want to scale up your business you have to share information and context and allow other members of your team to be able to have an informed discussion with you about risks and issues. And ultimately to have some of those discussions without your participation. As Hugh MacLeod observed, “scaling your business is all about having more people solve more problems for you.”
Define a great box by defining where to play and how to win; encourage in-the-box innovation.
To harness the team’s creativity define the business model and key objectives and let them experiment and explore strategies and tactics to accomplish them.
I think the key breakthrough he made was the realization that his clients didn’t want a weather map they wanted actionable suggestions predicated on an analysis of what they could do to mitigate risks against an identified asset base. He was selling against “the hapless weatherman outside in the hurricane” but it wasn’t his real competition. In December 2013 he rebranded it “Riskpulse” with the following goal:
Stormpulse Inc. becomes Riskpulse in response to customer requests for deeper risk management solutions. Because Stormpulse had a history of integrating disparate data sources and tracking rapidly-shifting factors in weather for business continuity professionals, it was uniquely positioned to develop a broader system for the whole supply chain.