At the end of 2012, Customer.io was running on fumes. Our revenue was $2500 a month and growing. We'd need about 10x that revenue to to get by with our team of 3 people. We had raised some money and hired a first team member. However, we didn't have enough money in the bank to make it through January.
At this point though we were in a position where getting new investment determined our survival. We got to thanksgiving and I just couldn't get any momentum on a deal.
In response, for the only time in the history of the company, we did a short term consulting contract. It was unrelated to our product, but it got extra cash in to the business. It helped us survive.
The New Year came around and investors jumped at the deal to invest and we got cash to continue.
I didn't forget the lesson though.
As quickly as possible, I ran our business so that only our customers get to decide whether we live or die. We would never be in the position where an investor or partner or anyone other than our customers or us can decide our fate.
I was reminded of my experience while listening to Sovereign Writers and Substack where Ben Thompson shares the skepticism he faced when starting Stratechery:
Whether you're a founder starting a business or a writer starting your substack, there's something incredibly powerful about being paid directly for what you our your company produces.