Several years ago I interviewed for a job with a small technology startup in its first couple rounds of funding. My initial interviews with the CEO and the team went very well. However as the final step to getting the job, I needed to meet the approval of two venture capitalists that backed the startup.
“Just Not Going to Work”
My interview with the first VC went just as well as all the others had gone. The last VC I was to meet with was a distinguished venture capitalist soon to be recognized on the “Forbes Midas List.”
As he fired off a series of questions about how I ran programs to support product, marketing and sales, each of my responses came directly from the lessons learned in my experience.
However, this partner basically said the way I had done things—and to a pretty great degree of success, by the way—were no longer going to work. From what he read and heard, times were changing, and he believed in new approaches startups in other categories used to gain traction at the time.
Change for Change’s Sake
I can appreciate where he’s coming from—doing the same thing and expecting different results probably isn’t the best way to make significant changes. Or so he thought, at least.
But his philosophy instigates quite a few questions: When is the right time to change our approach in business? Do we ever get caught following trends and changing for change’s sake? When do we trust in our own approaches and ways of doing things? When do we turn our back on something that works for the promise of something better?
When “Different” Isn’t So Different
Ultimately this startup followed a new business model pioneered from one of their competitors. They ended up just blending in amongst the myriad services without any true value or differentiation. This led to big losses, a down round of funding, a departure of the CEO and not much success since.
I didn’t get a job offer to work there. And for that, I have the man on the Midas List to thank.
Solid Business Foundation, Better Product Approach
Even so, that leaves several questions unanswered. There are probably several viable solutions, which I’d love to hear about in the comments. As for me, I am proud (and relieved) to have landed at a company where they got the mix just right.
At Domo, we’re providing a tool for real change in organizational communication, transparency, performance and access to data. It is a new approach, but it doesn’t abandon the foundation of business practices that have proven to work. We’re not blindly following the big data, social or mobile hypes to build a service around a new trend. We’re selectively leveraging the best of new technology for real business transformation.