The Costs of Building Brand New Things
I have always had an affinity for investing in Brand New Things, however the downside of brand new things is often NOT the ability for the technology to exist, but the ability for the market to understand. In most cases the education of the market is the most expensive part!
The first company I started was 12 years ago, it was called Xpert Financial, and we were building the secondary market for private securities: basically - “Where would you go to buy shares of Coinbase or Stripe today?”
We made all kinds of mistakes as first time founders.
As I write this, I’m on a chat with my old co-founders and we are currently going over the lessons learned, a conversation which was provoked by the launch of CartaX.
Some quick lessons:
We should have spent time on trading Facebook Pre-IPO shares because that was where the market demand was at the time
We built too many different products (Primary capital raising platform, Secondary trading marketplace, Virtual Deal room, Cap Table management solution, Legal innovations like the X-Share…) and each of those could have been a billion dollar company themselves… but you can’t do everything
There was a lack of companies actually providing liquidity for employees or shareholders 10 years ago (which has changed)
The results of these learnings fall into three categories:
Focus - Costs money because you have too many things and you do none well (Most commonly a first time founder problem)
Market Education - Costs money because it takes time to convince potential customers of any thing… especially something new
Our Own Education - We were first time founders in a new market and this takes time to understand the tapestry of what is actually important
Each of these costs money, and starting a company is about minimizing these costs and maximizing value delivered to the customer.