How we created a B2B startup
by Eric Perriard, on Aug 18, 2014 2:22:45 PM
Isn’t it tempting?
“Life goes by quickly”, whispers the devil on your shoulder. He knows all too well how to hit us at exactly those opportune times when we feel weak or deflated. But we are not fools, or at least we don’t like to believe that we are. Our rationale mind weighs up the odds and adjourns the decision to take the in-commensurable risk of dumping our old life and going it alone.
It is a point of no return. How can one possibly go back, once accustomed to experimenting with new ideas on a whim? Such an exciting taste of freedom is both rare and priceless.
You know the rewards (and hopefully you also have some awareness of the challenges ahead). But the problem is how to get started. I certainly do not have a recipe for success, but I can share a part of our story – the part that deals with the genesis of an idea, and what we did with it.
Our idea first emerged in 2005, when Tom and I were dinning in a city in the North of France. At that time, the organisations for whom we were working were entirely lacking in tools to cascade strategy down to people in management and the front line. We were feeling the effects of that deficiency first-hand with our increasing disengagement to the vision and the objectives of our employers.
Life went on. But thanks to a series of entirely fortuitous and random events in the lives of two boys in their twenties, Tom and I happened to find ourselves in the same city seven years later – Sydney. We realized that the problems we had ruminated on seven years prior were no closer to being solved. And finally, we were convinced that we had to do something about it.
So we launched a startup. The timing was key. We both had enough experience in the corporate world and we both felt that it was time to enter new phases in our lives: we had reached our early thirties and were on a plateau. We didn’t know the exact product that would result, we just knew that it would be aligned with our passion and skills: strategy and technology.
Cascade was born
At first the system was fairly basic. It was a solid goal management system, but it didn’t quite have the kick that was required to truly solve the problem of strategic alignment and execution. Over many months we met day by day, in coffee shops, bars, parks and restaurants with a continuous and single minded intention: solving the problem we had identified those many years ago.
Importantly, our intention was genuine. We discussed with passion but we thought rationally. The product had to convince us and the prototype was evolving at a rapid speed each day. Our guiding principle was to avoid the pitfalls of most other enterprise systems we had used: their clunkiness, the fact that employees were using them twice a year (and only because they were forced to), their outdated look and feel, and their lack of tangible business value.
Finally, the prototype was ready and we could start developing the system for real. At this early stage of our company, we did not outsource a single thing. Tom learned the cloud architecture, and I coded the first system from back to front. We learned Illustrator and video editing for our marketing materials, and we also designed our website. This allowed us to remain entirely self funded, and prepared us well to deal with any type of supplier or employee later on. How can you effectively out-source, if you don’t understand the nuances of what it is that you are outsourcing? It also allowed us to have the shortest possible gap between execution and ideation.
Is Cascade going to change the world? Probably not. Instead, it is filling a gap for organisations that no other system has ever filled for them. Not only that, but it’s streamlining related processes into one single system.
I believe that the community will decide for itself how far an idea will go; it’s not our job to even think about it. All we did, was to jump off the cliff and launch a product with genuine intent and hard work.