Samuel P.N. Cook
Jun 30, 2021
“Sorry it took us so long to say no.”
These words were delivered to me by an important and respected venture capitalist a few days ago.
Now, normally, getting turned down for funding is a rejection no one startup founder like me wants to hear.
But in this case?
It was a validation that felt like one of the biggest “Yes” wins I’d ever scored.
How is that possible?
Well, it starts with the fact that in the mind of your typical VC, it’s easier to build something that’s easy and derivative, rather than original and ‘hard.’
This is not an uncommon investing philosophy, of course.
In fact, this is described superbly in, “Startup Playbook,” by Sam Altman, a short book that just might be the best piece of content you could consume if you are trying to get accepted into the famed Y Combinator, one of the most successful startup accelerators in Silicon Valley.
Don’t reinvent the wheel, we’ve been told.
Then again, as Henry Ford famously pointed out, “If I had asked the public what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
It was this dichotomy of tried and true vs. real innovation that played in my mind earlier in the month as I sat in the office of a sharp but skeptical venture capitalist.
I had a lot in common with this VC...
Among other things, we had both served in the United States Army, and his fund’s thesis is to bet on accomplished leaders with bold visions.
“Boy, I really like you, Sam,” he said. “We love your leadership experience. We're just so impressed by what you guys have done and what you've built”...
“...And we really did look hard at your deal…”
He paused for a moment.
I waited for what was coming next.
“...But we just can't wrap our heads around how the hell you're going to pull this off.”
He was referring, of course, to our all-encompassing mission here at SanityDesk since our founding in 2019: To create the world’s only true, all-in-one growth marketing platform for small and medium-sized businesses.
I decided to cut to the chase.
Do you not buy into the thesis that entrepreneurs need an all-in-one solution? Or do you just think that me and my team can’t pull it off?”
He paused again, choosing his words carefully.
“Look, Sam, you're just trying to do so much,” he said. “I just think what you’re trying to do is incredibly hard.”
And here is where Altman’s “Startup Playbook” provides validation that this “no” was actually a big fat “YES” to our foundational concept.
Well, in the book, Altman warns that a lot of people are going to tell you that your idea is crazy…
...because most investors look for “derivative and easy.”
No surprise there. But here’s the reality...
It’s a lot easier to grasp and invest in “derivative and easy” … but “original and hard” is where the real money is made.
As Altman writes...
“One important counterintuitive reason for this is that it’s easier to do something new and hard than something derivative and easy.”
And he goes on to write…
“The best ideas sound bad but are in fact good.”
In other words, most people will turn you down before you get to a ‘Yes.’
This is why Altman also advises that you absolutely, positively must remain pigheaded, but also humbled, about the rightness of your mission.
We Believe that the SanityDesk Growth Operating System clearly passes the Y Combinator test of “original and hard”...
...“Original” in that nobody has yet tried this...
...and “hard” because it has taken us a long time to get here…
But as General Patreaus used to tell us in Iraq, “Hard doesn’t mean impossible.”
In fact, there is a clear example of what we’re trying to build already out there.
If you sell Physical Products online, you have two options.
1) Sell your Products on Amazon and let them take all the commission and comoditize your brand making you compete on Price.
2) Build your Own Brand Online on one Ecosystem where EVERYTHING you need - the Tools and the People to help you set it up - is in one place - SHOPIFY.
Shopify has executed on an all-in-one solution for physical businesses. That proves that it can, and should, be done.
However, no one has perfected this for small services businesses …
… until NOW, with our SanityDesk platform.
So when anyone gives us a “No” because they think we're just trying to be too much, and that we won't be able to pull it off …
Well, I actually love hearing that because it means we're on to something.
It means we’re original and hard, not derivative and easy. And that’s the way we like it.
Look, I’m used to VCs and others looking at us a little sideways…
We’ve always been The Outsiders.
We’re not based in Silicon Valley.
We operate from Kiev, Ukraine, where Americans may perceive us as just a ragtag bunch of Eastern Europeans - led by an eccentric U.S. Army War Vet who chooses to live overseas…
But in reality, we have assembled a team of world-class programmers and support personnel at a fraction of the going rate in the U.S.
We can pay above market wages here, get the best talent in the local market, and deliver world-class support to our end users.
We could NEVER do this in the U.S. and justify the costs.
And our numbers just keep getting better, which of course means that the longer investors wait, the more they're going to have to pay to join The Movement :-)
We're just looking for the perfect VC who believes we're crazy enough to actually pull this off.
And as you surely have heard by now, we took one massive step forward this year by being accepted into LA TechStars, the prestigious Los Angeles Accelerator, where we were one of only 12 companies selected out of 800 applicants.
All of which brings us to our big news....
We Have Graduated from the Prestigious LA TechStars Class of 2021!
We were truly honored to be one of only 12 companies to be accepted into this year’s LA TechStars roster.
As a “give-first” organization that stands squarely against “hustle culture” and the “screw everyone over” modus operandi that’s too common in the tech world today, TechStars are the industry’s good guys and clearly fit the guiding principles that fuel our mission at SanityDesk.
Our participation in this remarkable event has opened doors into the west coast investor ecosystem, and it means our ultimate success is now a question of “when,” not “if.”
It also means we’re clearly here to stay, which is a major milestone when you consider our humble origins exactly two years ago this month.
How humble you ask?
Well, how about couch-surfing in the belly of the Silicon Valley beast by crashing in the basement of an office of my old roommate from West Point …
... and then meeting with various Bay Area venture capitalists by day to pitch SanityDesk.
Our education was swift. And what we’ve learned along this journey has been nothing short of startling.
(If you want to read more about this, then click here.)
Last Thursday was “Demo Day” for the 12 graduates of the select group of companies that went through the 12-week LA TechStars program.
Did you miss our live presentation that crowned our participation in this renowned event?
Good news: You can still view it here right now:
Click Here to Watch Our LA TechStars Presentation
Would you like to know why we’re so on fire to solve tech problems and teach storytelling to small entrepreneurs?
It’s because it burns us to no end that small businesses get the shaft…
… that in the eyes of Big Tech, there’s just not enough money to be made from small businesses in terms of lifetime value.
Investors look to put their money into big enterprises such as Slack and Salesforce, behemoths that serve companies where software budgets are essentially a rounding error.
The reality is, there's traditionally not been a lot of money in serving small businesses.
Frankly, a lot of investors just don't understand small business, and are scared off by them.
But when we tell them that SanityDesk solves all their problems and tech in one place, some investors are actually intrigued by it.
“Holy crap,” they’ll say. “Can you really do that?”
And our answer is: Hello, we're ALREADY doing it!
To see exactly how, click here to watch the Demo Day Video released upon our graduation from LA TechStars 2021:
Have you signed up yet to use our SanityDesk software for FREE?
You haven’t? (GASP!)
What are you waiting for?
It’s truly free.
And listen, for us, “Free” does NOT mean you’re limited to 7 days, 14 days, or even 90 days, etc.
It’s free until you get real results.
That means you pay nothing until you get 250 contacts into your system. That’s real traction.
You get results, period, before you even think about paying a dime.
Do you want to see the details?
The Future and What Support REALLY Means...
We’re growing. Our monthly recurring revenue is at an all-time high.
And that’s just for starters, because we’re also doing something else revolutionary:
We're connecting business owners with marketers who are using our software.
It’s so that authors, experts, consultants and creators of all kinds can go about doing what they do best — impacting the world with their expertise.
Our software eliminates two things that every small business owner hates:
1. Zapier, which forces them to scotch tape their funnel together using expensive tech tools that don’t work and rarely “play nice'' with each other. Haven’t we all had enough of that frustration?
2. Support articles. Is there anything worse than reading a 5,000-word support article to solve a simple problem that shouldn’t even exist in the first place? We think not.
No one wants to read a support article.
And how is it possible in today’s day and age that Facebook itself makes you wait until regular business hours to get some support for your Facebook ads account?
We personally spend hundreds of thousands of dollars annually with Facebook … and you’re telling me that we can’t get direct support evenings or on weekends?
Think about that! The richest company in the history of the world can’t even provide 24/7 support!
I’m sorry, that’s simply not acceptable.
And that’s why one of our primary values is to become the Zappos of the SaaS space when it comes to customer service.
We believe that SaaS is simply an expression of the way the world should be.
We want legendary support to be part of our brand.
You should always be able to speak to someone to get immediate answers to your problems.
Why? Because even if our software is working but you can't figure it out, we want to be there to help you so that we can learn why it's not intuitive.
We don’t look at support as an expense. It’s an investment for us.
That's why we're located in Ukraine, because we can afford to have a large support team at this very early stage in our company.
Want to hear more about why we’re in Ukraine? Then click here to watch this free video, "Our Vision for a Better Digital World"
Thanks for reading and let us know what we can do for you.
Join us on a weekly journey through the history of Technology, and the Future that we need to collectively create to realize the promise and avoid the perils of the Digital Age. Written by the Co-Founder and CEO of SanityDesk - a Former West Point History Professor.
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