My co-founder and I lived in San Francisco for years. The peak of Silicon Valley. We were very familiar with startups going with the VC model.
You know the one:
- Startup raises a ton of money.
- Startup burns cash to try and achieve unicorn status.
In fact, we both worked at one: Facebook. To be fair, by the time we worked there, Facebook was way beyond unicorn status.
For every Facebook, there were many, many companies that failed to find traction. But for VCs, it's a numbers game. A tiny fraction of their portfolio ends up "returning the fund". To you, your startup is everything. To them, your startup is one pull at a slot machine.
Maybe the exposure helped us see that was not how we wanted to build Canny. Growth at all costs was not an attractive path for us.
On the other hand, we have lifestyle businesses.
According to Wikipedia: “A lifestyle business is a business set up and run by its founders primarily with the aim of sustaining a particular level of income and no more”
I wrote a bit about this in a previous blog post but I still feel the same way. I do not like the term "lifestyle business".
I feel it implies we're not taking Canny seriously. However, we’re still here trying to build a very successful, ambitious business.
Sorry if this whole thing sounded pretty negative. I believe there are a lot of success states between unicorn and lifestyle business. I'm happy to see that startups like ours are getting more attention.
I'll be writing more about the decisions we've made on our journey so far.