Tuesday, June 18, 2019

My Startup Journey - Eating Shit


Go big or go home
The warning signs are quite clear
Getting out of bounds

I recently started my own company, Olifano. This is the third post in a series about the lessons I am learning along the way. You can find the first here and the second here.

Still one of my favorite quotes, Ben Horowitz in his book “The Hard Thing about Hard Things” notes that “if you are going to eat shit, don’t nibble”. The ski bums here in Park City say, “Go big or go home.” As a startup founder, you have to believe in your idea. That just makes sense, otherwise, why bother. I believe, quite passionately, in the idea of Olifano but I find that I am constantly fighting the temptation to nibble at it.

“Maybe I should keep working as a Chief Customer Officer and start Olifano as a side-hustle?”.

“Maybe I should start with a really small pilot group of users so I don’t disappoint too many people with the MVP.”

“Maybe I should self-fund it all, that way you don’t have to put anyone else’s money at risk.”

The temptation is to nibble. To stay on the easy green ski runs. Stay in bounds. It might work to go slow, start small and build slowly. Proceed cautiously and not risk anything more than I have to. I find that I have to keep reminding myself, don’t nibble! I have yard saled on tough slopes and walked away with more than a few bruises. They healed. I have been fired from jobs I loved. It ultimately worked out for the best. I keep coming back to the Horowitz quote. “Don’t nibble”. It might be easier to play it safe but I might also miss the real opportunity. It might be easier (and a lot less embarrassing) to fail small but I won’t learn what it could have been. It is a constant struggle for me, and a surprise of the founder journey, the constant doubts and that insidious idea that maybe I should stick to nibbling.

I can’t wait to share what we are building with you. We launch this fall so please stay tuned! You can follow Olifano on LinkedIn or on Twitter.


About David Verhaag

David is the Founder of Olifano. He has spent his career building and scaling teams at some of the leading HR technology companies. He was most recently the Chief Customer Officer at Degreed, the lifelong learning platform. Prior to Degreed, he held leadership positions at Kahuna, HireVue, and SuccessFactors. David lives and snowboards in Park City, Utah.

Follow on Twitter Connect on LinkedIn

No comments: