Patrick Sullivan: We started going to a bunch of conferences and then we started explaining our vision on platforms. People started to listen. The next thing we know we started getting calls from people around the world. The problem was it was really hard to determine people who had money and interested versus people who wanted us to hire them. After a while, we ended up talking to this person who was working for a large telecom company.
Long story short, he wanted to come to our office. The problem is we didn’t have an office. If you get hired as a consultant, you want to make sure that you are a real company. We met at a coffee shop. When we got to the coffee shop, they showed up and they were in three-piece suits. They looked around and invited us to their office. This company was T-Mobile. We went down there.
The problem is they also told us to bring out entire team out there. We didn’t want to show up as just two people. We got a couple of friends who were engineers and said, “Come with us. Bring your computers and just sit.” We went down there and they’re like, “We love your vision. It seems like you have a great team here. We’ll hire you guys for a year-long contract to do a bunch of consulting.”
Darren and I have never done a consulting project. We went to the parking lot and discussed how much we should ask for. We actually asked for $250 an hour. If you have something valuable, ask for what you want. You can always negotiate downwards. We used that money to bring on more people and send more stuff to do the consulting.
During the after hours, we were building our platform. It was hard because you’re doing two jobs at the same time. It was worth it. We got to keep the entire equity. We didn’t need to have a Board of Directors to tell us which direction to go. It gave us a lot of freedom.
Sramana Mitra: We put a name on the methodology that you’re talking about – Bootstrapping Using Services. Numerous companies have been founded with this method including Oracle.
Patrick Sullivan: It’s amazing because you learn a ton while you’re doing the consulting work. You’re literally doing coding at night and consulting in the day. We know what we went through and it makes us work that much harder. I agree with you. If people are willing to put the time and effort into it, it’s a very good way to get the company off the ground.