Yesterday all 14 teams had to move out of the DreamIt office here in Philly. I was so exhausted at the end of the day that I went to bed at 7pm after an 11 hour work day mixed with my last ping pong games with our DreamIt friends and colleagues. This was a short work day.
Early this morning I finally finished the book “Steve Jobs” and while the whole book was moving and inspirational it was his quoted discussion on his legacy in the final pages that hit me like a stone. Steve berates “entrepreneurs” who are just looking for an exit. That hurt a bit because it touched a sensitive aspect to my desire to be a serial entrepreneur. Then he goes on to talk about building a company that can stand the test of time.
In my journey as an entrepreneur, which I have been on officially for over a year now, I have to admit that I think more about exits and profit margins than what I would like to. Jobs discourages this and I understand why. The book Good to Great never spoke about exit strategies, from a financial perspective, yet was my favorite book before finishing Steve Jobs. Good to Great spoke about building great companies, companies that lasted even after their founder(s) have passed or talented executives have moved on. Of course it wasn’t about new ventures, yet more focused on recapping mature ones.
I have learned that great people build great things together. Trust is more than a five letter word and you have to be more confident in your teammates than anyone else. Communication is key, and not that soft shoe stuff. You literally have to fight sometimes in order to get to the next plateau. But the most important thing I have learned is that companies are ran by people who have dreams and fears, ambitions and naysayers, goals and obstacles. Over the last 3 months we’ve worked with some of the greatest entrepreneurs this world will see over the next few years. I am lucky to have learned from and contributed with them. I sincerely hope that we are all, whether pitching on exits or not, focused on building great companies that stand the test of time. That we all think more about the why, than the how and execute with our core DNA intact at all times.
Billy and I have a DNA and culture that is rooted in live entertainment experiences, but that doesn’t really express the why of ThaTrunk Inc. The why is really because we believe that a certain energy is generated when people gather together. You can see it more aptly at the end of Burning Man when everyone focuses on the man burning. It is powerful and synaptic. While I tend to explain the commercial capabilities of our tech (e.g. Artists selling music from the stage) and Billy tends to gravitate towards the revolutionary ramifications of our tech (e.g. Communication without cell towers such that families separated in a large revolt or natural disaster, still have a chance at communicating), at the core of it all is that we want to connect you, to the people around you.
I visualize it like a synaptic network, but, if I may insert my own spiritual belief here, which is totally agnostic of religion, I believe that all living things are connected. I believe our well developed consciousness and self-awareness is what alienates us from each other. We are so smart and experienced that we often fail to tap into the psyche of the human standing next to us. Many of us find it difficult to understand our spouses or special someone’s who we spend inordinate amounts of time with, when compared to other people. It is a human condition most likely instigated with the development of our industrialized world. Our sphere of concern has evolved to the point that we are connected more than ever in some ways, yet disconnected more than ever in others.
My direct experience in juxtaposing this human condition, from an American’s perspective, was the 6 months I spent in Brazil. Companionship in Brazil largely involved lots of human interaction. Friends and family at the beach, friends and family at a football match, friends and family in the house together talking to, sharing with, and harassing each other. Even at large events it felt like people were communicating on one accord. Their songs, dances and rally cries, all more concerted than ours. I always felt alien, not simply because of the language barrier, but mostly because of the cultural barrier. But that’s why I went there, to be an outsider, to learn and experience something external to my norm.
The greatest contribution to society that Billy and I can make is that we can share various aspects of the human perspective in one given moment from multiple people in the same place and time. A blogger’s perspective in real-time who may be sitting right next to you; a series of picture of an artist on stage from 5 different angles at once; an independent promoter seeking to drive attention to his after-party; or a series of artisans competing for your purchase. Rather that is worth, in the future, 10-100x more than what it is worth today; well hell folks, that’s the fun part :)
What is important is that we remember and execute on the why and create a company that can stand the test of time, like Egyptian pyramids.
While we’re still testing the app after giving it the ability to do global coordinates for Geocasting, our CTO, Billy Sierra-Lenhart, says that we can geocast nationally, and technically internationally if we wanted to be cheeky.
Last night, while Billy was speaking to ThaTrunk’s mentor, Paul Wright, at the DreamIt Holiday party (hosted by our MD Kerry Rupp) Billy told Paul “if we could get coordinates from the moon, this s#!t will work on the moon too.”