A vast majority of web entrepreneurs want to be millionnaires. It would be a lie and even economically bad if it wasn’t so. But, is money the driving force for the founders? I don’t think so.
Early stage – when you start building the product.
Making money from the startup is either a secondary motive or doesn’t exist at all. Work all night (&day), demo to users, iterate till you arrive at something people want. The trick is to reach this state before the founders get demoralized. Clearly the make-or-break factor is not money, it’s building something before dying out on morale.
Pivoted – the pain point for a set of customers is identified.
The hunger to get more such customers to try out the product and get feedback is the primary motive. Let’s first get x beta users and then we can monetize. It’s an unparalleled feeling interacting with initial users, probably the best way to get high. Again, making money isn’t the primary motive
Let’s see if the beta users are actually “real” customers. You get to know how many “real” users are present only when they’re willing to pay. Even here you want your startup to become rich and not you.We’re currently at this stage and there should be many more stages in the startup journey.
We started off with a product that did mock interviews, tried different things for over a year, didn’t go anywhere. We then built a tool that helps companies screen programmers – we went through all the stages mentioned above, but the driving force hasn’t changed
Quoting Hari (co-founder) who said this yesterday: “I get scared when I get a phone call, I so hope it’s not someone who reports a bug”. This is exactly what I go through. I hate it when a customer finds a bug, doesn’t matter how big / small he is. It’s a combination of passion, fear of failure / losing the customer and may be a few others.
What surprises me is, even though the external environment has changed dramatically, (we’ve gone from a bootstrapped startup to ramen profitable, now funded by an amazing set of angel investors, moved to the valley) our drive hasn’t – it’s still to make the best recruitment tool and get a lot of paying customers – make the startup rich. Taking home a big pay check is a secondary motive. I’m not dismissing it, it’s important but it’s never been the top thing on our mind.
To sum up, we’ll be happier if we become rich but will be downright upset and somber if the startup doesn’t.