Making A 60º Turn

steering-wheelToday we’re announcing a whole bunch of product changes and the launch of our first two partners, technically on schedule in Q1. What it’s taken to get here has been anything but according to plan, though, in a way I think sheds some real light on what it takes to build a successful startup.

Starting a company is like setting off on a journey, headed true North in the direction of your vision. You map a path to get there, called your strategy. Along the way you encounter obstacles, new lands, people and opportunities, all of which change you as a person. Your understanding of yourself and your goal changes. Sometimes you find your way around these things to get back on your original course, other times your destination itself changes.

One of the hardest thing about running a startup is separating the “signal” – feedback that indicates the need for a change in your path or your destination, your strategy or your vision – from the “noise.” Noise is the friction that any new idea needs to overcome, the inertia of the status quo and the way things work today. Signal and noise are streaming in constantly… from employees, partners, investors, competitors, the press, your family, everywhere. Follow the noise and you’ll be lost. Miss the signal and you’ll march resolutely in the direction of nothing.

The volume of signal/noise amped up for us significantly at DEMO, and we’ve spent the time since then trying to determine what we needed to change and where we just needed to improve the quality of our execution. We’ve made a bunch of 30º course corrections since then, which startups need to be able to do with relative ease. We can improve our internal communication on this stuff, but on balance we’re pretty nimble within that 60º arc.

By late in Q4 it was obvious, though, that the calls to make a couple of 60º turns – disruptive, dis-continuous changes in our product roadmap – were signal, not noise. It hurt, but we did it, and it feels like we’ve grown up a little bit as a result.

Anyway when you look at our new release, one which features:

  • Focus on origination within a single partner application,
  • “One-Click Key Creation” if that partner already knows what you like,
  • The elmination of the need to download anything, ever,

Know that it’s taken a lot of hard work from a lot of smart people to get here so quickly, and that the signal is coming though loud and clear.

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