- The Good, the Bad, and the Weird
- TheBiggest Mistake I've Made Building Commsor
TheBiggest Mistake I've Made Building Commsor
Building startups is hard, and mistakes are part of the journey.
I’ve been building Commsor for about 4 years now. Wow, I’ve been building Commsor for 4 years now. I’m really struggling to comprehend that as I write this.
Time really has no meaning sometimes doesn’t it?
Anyways, this is my first time building a VC-backed startup, my first time being CEO, and my first time having this much pressure on me from investors, team members, customers, the general market.
To say I haven’t been perfect in this first-time journey would be an understatement. Plus anyone who thinks they’re perfect is either delusional or a moron. Or likely both.
Shiny object syndrome
“We’re like those cartoons with three kids in a trenchcoat pretending to be an adult. We’re three companies wrapped up as one.”
I used to say this line many times per day, whenever someone asked the classic “what does Commsor do” question. I read this now and realize its the worst thing ever.
Sure if you’re a multibillion dollar platform like Shopify, then it makes sense to be many businesses under one roof. But when you’re an early stage startup trying to go from 0 to 1, your biggest enemy is a death by 1000 cuts.
And the worst part is, it can be really hard to notice you’re being cut that often when you’re in the moment.
“Mac you’re so good at coming up with ideas and convincing everyone around you that they’re great, that you never give the ideas time to sink or swim on their own.”
One of our investors told me that a few months ago. Founders tend to be good at telling compelling stories filled with conviction. That's how we attract investors, hires, and most importantly, customers.
Comsmor from 2020 to early 2022 was the perfect shiny obecjt storm. Great conviction, a crazy green-field market with lots of opportunity, and enough funding to try lots of ideas.
And wow did new ideas feel awesome in the moment. They felt like progress!
At one point in 2021 Commsor was doing all of these at the same time - building three software products, a standalone community, a cohort based education program, a services arm, an NFT project and a micro VC fund. WTF was I thinking?!
But I was mistaking movement for velocity. I was thrashing around in the water rather than swimming with a clear and focused destination in mind.
This is the single largest mistake I’ve made at Commsor so far. Instead of staying focused on one or two core things and making sure we were the BEST in the world at those things, I was constantly trying new ideas.
6 months ago we refocused the entire business around a renewed and slimmer focus. We reduced the number of projects we were working on, narrowed our target customer (even though we could sell to more people), slimmed the team down, and spent a lot of timing defining what Commsor was.
But more importantly, I spent a lot of time defining what Commsor wasn’t.
At first it didn't feel like any sort of difference was noticeable. I could feel the desire to try new things creeping up on me every day.
But right now, when I look back over the past 6 months, I can really see the compounding effects of that focus.
Our team moves faster, the vision and mission is clearer, and it’s significantly easier to communicate what we are and why people should care to the market around us.
Saying no more often pays off, even if it feels tough in the moment.
More to come next week!
More reflection on the journey so far with the next two mistakes I’ve made along the way.
Hey, I’m Mac, the founder of Commsor. I’m based in Copenhagen and basically spend all my time building the business, drinking tea or running. Each week I share insights, stories and thoughts from the startup journey. The good, the bad, and the weird parts.
Know someone who you think would enjoy following along on this journey?