Today I bring to you a life changing read. This is a story about a little guy with big dreams.
A guy who didn’t give up. These anecdotes are followed by key lessons this chap can teach us.
Early back in the late 90s. This young youth -drop out of college because he didn’t want to get a job anywhere, decided to leave his hometown of Nebraska and move on to California. He had no education.No degree either. What he did have was tons and tons of self confident attitude.
Lesson no 1: Be confident.
He always believed himself to be entrepreneurial. Not like the idiots today branding a tag, this kid
wanted to do things, change things, make a dent in the universe (steve).
He started his career by working for HP where he learnt web development on his own and went on board for about 7 months as a consultant to work his way up. He had no idea about the trends, but picked it up quickly.
Lesson no 2: If it’s required to be learned. Learn.
Shortly thereafter, he started raking in some money and met a consultant. She had an MBA and he decided that she could help each other put together a company that made a product for project management. Something like basecamp, but very early alpha. They worked on it on their own and this lad taught himself all the necessary coding required to build it. They named this product, “Stuff”.
While Stuff was picking up and they had a good thing going on. They brought in another guy to help them build this little tool that could help them exchange notes. It was a web log of data, notes and other interesting stuff. Quickly becoming the nervous system of the company, this product started showing signs of maturing and overtaking “Stuff”. He was excited to get it rolling and so were his partners, so they split their attention in developing this web log and simultaneously working on Stuff.
Lesson no 3: If an opportunity presents itself, grab it.
They started scaling themselves pretty well, put together some funding and decided that this was what they wanted to do. This weblog, by then acquiring it’s fancy name we know of today, called Blog was rapidly picking up among geeks. This was close to the bubble burst time and this lad decided it was good enough to launch publicly. This company decided that they would halt the Stuff product and work, instead, on this Blog thing. They generated no revenue. But they wrote their business plan the day before they sought funding.
Lesson no 4: You don’t need funding or a business plan till you have something to show in hand.
While they rose, their lack of revenues and monthly churn out rate put them in great danger. This little team of 2 had grown to a family of 7 only to make ends meet a veritable task by itself. This guy went frankly to his team and told him there was no money. He told them, “You can work with me on your tomorrow or you can leave”. They decided to leave. Even the woman with the MBA who had poured 2 years into this.
It was only him and dark times. It was a scary scary thing for a guy growing up to be feeling. But he decided to stay on. He was alone. He learnt Linux and java and decoded bugs as and when they came along. He shared his story to the readers and asked for help along the way, all the while never stopping to fix what was needed. The technology kept growing and he didn’t want to quit just yet.
Lesson no 5: Believe in yourself and know if you are on to a good thing.
Lesson no 5b: Do whatever it takes to stay afloat.
His girlfriend broke up with him. His rents piled up. He was living skin to teeth. He was sued by his team mates. He wasn’t going to quit just yet though. This blog thing, now named Blogger, was growing big. He had 50,000 users, his determination and most important, vision to take this forward. It was crude, but he was on it. He was being abused, tarnished and pointed fingers at. He went underground and worked full time on Blogger.
Lesson no 6: Trust in the most important person to you. You.
He put in ads in the start. And charged people money to remove the ads on their pages for $12 a year. Slowly money trickled in. He slowly started making money to pay his hosting bills. He had given up his office and was lent a desk for free in a company. He then wrote the blogger APi, which became very important later on by hiring a programmer and redesigning it around a bit. Then they released Blogger Pro, a vision he had, and got back staff on board to take this product full time.
Then Google called. The rest is history. The rest is also to be read in this fascinating story of the guy being interviewed in a book called Founders at Work. Recognise him? Maybe a picture would help.