Back in 2012, Eric Corti, a founder looking for investment on Shark Tank, received a surprise $500k buyout offer from Lori Greiner, and then $600k from Mark Cuban, and as expected, he froze. The challenge was balancing the probability of a fortune worth millions, with the certainty of $600k. This required him to question many things he took for granted, like if he really believed in the idea, or if he just wanted to be called an entrepreneur. If he was willing to take a financial hit to see a product he loved with all his heart, make it to the mainstream market, and maybe, just maybe, make a difference.
“I hate working under people, at a 9-5. I want to be my own boss, do what the hell I like, whenever I want it”.
I find this illogical because many of the qualities required to succeed at a 9-5 are also required to even have a shot at success as an entrepreneur. Things like conscientiousness, an eye for detail, enough optimism to ignore the naysayers, and enough realism to evaluate your progress objectively. The ones who will succeed at running their own businesses don’t do it because they feel like, they do it because they cannot live any other way.
Choosing to abandon the certainty of a paid job, to slug it out on the startup scene, with or without investors on your toes, is a decision that must be born out of an identified problem, a brilliant, original, scaleable solution, a killer execution strategy and an unshakeable belief in your product. Anything less, and you’re certainly going to fail at it. Oh, and securing investment from VCs doesn’t mean your business has been validated if these things aren’t present. It’s only postponing your demise, and making it that much more painful.
In the 21st century, we’ve managed to glamorise entrepreneurship. Constantly having success stories shoved in our faces has created a confirmation bias of sorts, such that we only see Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, etc, and now everyone wants to create the next Facebook, and maybe manage to drop out of school while they’re at it. Makes for a great story, innit? Those who take this path never last more than a few years, and if they do, will jump at the first opportunity they get to liquidate their stake in the company. That is, if they’re smart enough. One thing I know for sure though, is that they will never create anything truly amazing. They will never make anything that will change the world, and that’s a shame.
Remember Eric Corti?
When he received his first offer of $500k from Lori Greiner, he answered “potentially”, and when Mark Cuban raised it by $100k, instead of taking the money and running, he got greedy asked for a 3% royalty on every sale of the invention, and you should have guessed by now, that Cuban withdrew his offer. Lori Greiner made yet another $500k offer, which he declined, and by the time all the other sharks were out, Mark Cuban made an offer of $400k ($200k less than before) and Eric had to accept it.
So, would you sell your startup right now if I gave you $600k?
Photo Credit: Jatinder Joshi, via Compfight cc