Patrick Sullivan: It turns out our billing system was turned off. We couldn’t have figured that out because it was so complex at that time. It was one of those things where it was just an eye-opener. You were working on so many different projects at the same time that you always have to fundamentally make sure that the key pieces are there, no matter what. Now we have these test suites that we’ve made.
It’s funny because when I tell the story, people are like, “How are you still in business? You guys seem to make every mistake possible.” A lot of entrepreneurs never started companies before.
Sramana Mitra: It is a tremendous learning curve.
Patrick Sullivan: If I had hair, I would have lost them all during that time. This was a pretty stressful time. We were happy because we didn’t miss payroll. It was a learning experience to make sure that fundamentals are always there.
Sramana Mitra: How many people were you at this point?
Patrick Sullivan: We were probably 20 to 25 people.
Sramana Mitra: What revenue threshold are we talking?
Patrick Sullivan: We were probably at a couple of million dollars. It was interesting because we’re now starting to hit that point where we had our platform. We’re getting good money from support contracts but we’re now hitting that one area that every entrepreneur has to hit, which is trying to take customer feedback versus trying to push the direction you want.
We term it consulting, but people would come in and say, “I’d really like to pay for this feature.” Because it’s open source, we get a lot of requests to build features. The tricky part for us was, what’s best for the overall company versus what’s best for our client. The problem is we have a variety of clients. We were starting to get to a point where there was a lot of internal debate on which project we should go for.
We finally made a decision that we were going to stick to the roadmap. If people want us to start building features and it it’s not in the top five things on our roadmap, we have to say no. We were walking away from a lot of money on the table. The way we saw it was, if we take those projects, it’s going to help the platform in the long run but in the short-term, we’re not going to get to where we need to be.
It was hard. There was a lot of debate. You have to take a step back if it’s good for your company in the long run. Don’t try to please the really big guys. I can tell you a million stories of us trying to please the big guys. 80% of the time it didn’t work out.