Always Selling Something New That No One Understands
I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes working for startups so different, challenging and awesome all at the same time. The one thing that keeps coming to mind the most is the fact that when you work for a startup that’s doing something different you’re always selling something new that no one understands.
In most jobs you have a very specific role that is based upon working on or selling something that’s already understood. For example, you might work at a construction firm and your job is to build relationships with people who need a building built. Most people already know what a building is and whether or not they want to build one, you just need to find them and convince them that you’re the best option.
Or maybe you’re an account manager at a business that sells clothes or cars or food. Your job isn’t getting people to understand why they need these things, that was already done a long time ago. Instead, your job is to do it over and over again in an efficient, organized and consistent way.
This is the complete opposite of working at a startup. At a startup you’re bringing a new product or service to the market that no one really asked for but your goal is to make it something that people can’t live without. Think about that for a minute. Your entire job and overall business is something that’s not proven, isn’t being asked for and will need to be explained over and over and over again. Sounds like fun, huh?
For me, the act of building something from nothing through scrappy problem solving and creativity is the fun part. At isocket I’ve been able to see us grow from two people to fifteen and very soon we’ll be to thirty (yep, we’re hiring) and it’s all happened by pushing a product to market that’s never been done before.
All of this has happened by consistently selling (and building) something new that no one understands. The first two and a half years when we were talking about building the industry’s first programmatic direct deals platform for display advertising people thought we were nuts. We wouldn’t shut up about it but the market just wasn’t responding. We had a feeling it was going to take a while to turn the market into believers so we did what any other good startup does, we just kept on pushing towards not what people wanted but what we believed.
Now things are different and we’re not the only ones talking about it, but that doesn’t mean that we’ve stopped selling things that people don’t understand. I still do it every day and I expect to do it for at quite a while longer. The reality of working at a startup is that once someone gets what you’re doing you’re already working on something else that’s one step closer to where you really want to be. It’s a never ending cycle but it’s what make startups both exciting and demoralizing all at the same time. One day you’re up, one day you’re down but you’re never doing something boring.
If you’ve ever thought about creating or joining a startup I guess you should ask yourself if you’re ok with selling things to people that you know they’re most likely not going to understand (at least for a while). You’ve got to be ok with doing it over and over until you finally make it to the point to where the market understands you and your product is something that they see value in. History shows that it doesn’t happen to very many startups but the ones that get there will never experience anything like it.
With the $8M investment that me and the rest of the isocket team just announced we’re one step closer to getting to where we want to go. It’s been a great ride so far and I’m blessed to work with so many awesome people. Every day I go into the office and face new challenges and problems that no one has ever tried to figure out and yes, I’m always selling something new that most people still don’t understand (but they’re getting there).