Sramana Mitra: How did you stimulate that? Were these inbound leads or did you actually go after enterprise clients?
Hugh Massie: Both. There were inbound leads. People became aware that we existed. Because what we have done has been leading edge, it’s only now that these bigger firms are starting to having a goals-based financial planning model. What I’m finding more commonplace is request for proposals. That didn’t exist until the last year or so. It was all very organic. These firms are turning their attention to the types of processes that we have. They’re investing in doing it. That has been good for us. There were some referrals also. Some of the advisors talk to people and say, “You better go look at Financial DNA.”
As an entrepreneur, one of the things you;ve got to do is continually invest and innovate in your own product. You can’t just sit there and just accept what it is. You’ve got to continually improve it without necessarily changing the clarity of what it is. You have to keep smartening it up and putting new ideas in there. That’s what we’ve done. In getting the enterprise clients, it’s also part of being around long enough.
People don’t want to work with you if they think you’re not going to be there tomorrow. That’s also a big thing. It’s about credibility and changing mindsets. It’s easier to change a mindset with a forward-thinking, smaller business. With a large organization, it may take a while.
Sramana Mitra: What percentage of your $10 million business is from enterprise customers?
Hugh Massie: It would be about half. Based on what we’re doing, I expect that to move to 80/20.
Sramana Mitra: You want it to be more of an enterprise business?
Hugh Massie: Yes. We are embarking on some pretty interesting strategies right now where we can get a lot more bigger customers. We’ve got a couple in the pipeline. They could be pretty explosive to our business growth without our having to directly add a lot of headcount.
Sramana Mitra: You have done all this so far with no outside financing?
Hugh Massie: No, we haven’t raised any outside financing.
Sramana Mitra: What is your thinking on that? Is this something you’re interested in raising outside financing for?
Hugh Massie: We may do it down the track. The thing that I’ve learned is if you raise outside capital too early and the business plan doesn’t work, invariably, you lose your business.
Sramana Mitra: That’s right.
Hugh Massie: A lot of people come up with a good idea. They sell a few early customers. The venture capitalists give them some money. Businesses take much longer to really grow at the right foundation than what most venture capitalists are going to allow. I have another business that has succeeded with venture capital and a lot of outside money. I’m a major stockholder in it. The product and the market have to be absolutely ready for your product to fly at a very fast rate to take on outside money.
That’s why, 99% of the time, people get buried. They try to make it too fast. They take on that capital before they’re ready. To be honest, it’s better to go slower unless you’re trying to do something where it’s already a crowded space. If that’s the case, you’d have to think twice about it anyway. It’s better to go slower and get it right. Then gear up and go fast. Start slow, finish fast is a better way.
Sramana Mitra: I love everything you said. It’s completely consistent with the philosophy of One Million by One Million. Our philosophy is entrepreneurship equals customers, revenues, and profits. Financing and exit is optional. Entrepreneurs, very often, lose sight of that core reality.
Hugh Massie: The other thing for me is time will tell if I’ve over invested in it. It has allowed me to live my passion. It’s enabled me to be a happier human being. I’ve met a tremendous amount of people around the world that I would never have met otherwise. I have a deep set of relationships around the world even though I’m an extremely introverted person. This has provided a platform for me.
Because of the knowledge I have about human behavior and accounting, people have me sit on their Boards. Other opportunities pop up. If you just start out building a very flimsy technological product that has got no other foundation, you might get some money thrown at it. If it doesn’t work, you’ve got nothing. With what we’ve built, even if we don’t get to be the biggest business, we can still be a very valuable business because of the insights that we have and the plethora of services that can be offered.
It’s just a matter of how big can we make it and having the belief that you can do that. I believe that. We have found some solutions that probably, over the next two or three years, will make us an extremely big business in a way in which we’re probably reinventing the way human behavior is used and are digitalizing it. That’s a very important message. If you’re not deeply passionate about your product or you treat it as a transaction, that’s a big problem.
Sramana Mitra: I fully agree. Excellent. Thank you for your time.