Founders are essential, without them their idea the startup would not exist. But maybe that is their greatest contribution
Just like all other startups, ShopBack faces all kinds of rejection from every possible angle. This makes the stamp of approval from a third party especially heartwarming — even more so when the organisation has power to reach masses.
Interestingly, we have noticed a recurring pattern when people want to discover more about our company. It seems like many of them, be it the media or conference organisers, share the same passion for the two “F” words related to startups: Founders and Funding.
This reality, honestly, came as a bit of a surprise.
We have never identified ourselves (the Founders) — and the Funding we receive — as particularly interesting subject matters. But we do recognise news updates about Shopback offer intriguing conversation material for the community.
More important, our team believes in an asset that is equally, if not more, important than the two defining components mentioned above.
Like Elon Musk — if we could even just be 1 per cent like him — we believe the Founders, are not and should not be the most valued asset in a company. On the same note, we also agree with Pascal Finnete’s view arguing an immense focus on Funding can be toxic for a startup.
Let me expound on this with an analogy below.
Hotel and Home
Founders and Funding are like two hotels – they dominate your social media feed and are akin to fleeting fireworks illuminating the night sky and filling the cover pages of luxurious magazines.
Home is different. Home is protected, even shielded from social media. If hotels are the fireworks lighting up a city, home is the trusty reading lamp for bedtime stories; the words that breathe life into literature that transcends the age.
Home is our people – the most reliable and endearing asset of our company — and the only reason we are here today.
Home — Family and why it is the correct ‘F word’
In less than one-and-a-half years, ShopBack has grown from a six-man team to a family of over 50 people.
The quick swell in manpower is not a coincidence. We are an Internet company with absolutely no logistics or inventory to handle, making brains and skills the most important asset to our survival.
As the popular Chinese saying goes “创业难，守业更难” (“To start a business is difficult, but the real challenge is keeping it open”).
The people who join the startup at a later stage are not walking into a life that is any easier than those veterans from the early days. In fact, they have more complex challenges to tackle and stickier situations to handle in order to further propel the company.
We use a ‘one person, one responsibility’ structure to instil a strong sense of ownership in all team members. Everyone is stretched in an effort to hit moonshots for a common goal, which in our case is to bring ShopBack to the regional stage in the shortest time possible while operating sustainably.
And that is why we launched in five countries in less than 18 months.
Hotel – The Founders and Funding Factor
Like drinking a Red Bull to ‘give you wings’, Funding is critical for startups to scale fast and entrench market position. But, like our favorite energy drink, too much of it can lead to defeat thanks to a sugar crash.
Like Jon Westenberg says, we prefer to spend it like we have to pay it back. Similar to the mindset of an Extreme Couponist, when a person or company has limited resources to tap into, they become compelled to think the unthinkable and do the undoable.
This helps to maximise the potential of existing resources regardless of the supply.
Obviously, Founders are important. It takes plenty of guts and strong hearts to start something out of nothing. It is them who started with an idea and brought it to life.
But that is about the biggest contribution.
If it is just the six people in an apartment nurturing the startup, it is a 100 per cent guarantee we will never provide enough nutrients to nourish and grow the business.
To us Founders, the greatest thing that we have discovered is not ShopBack. It is the fearless people who believe in us and join us on this adventure.
Which leaves just one more thing to say. Thank you.
To the people of the past, present and future. To our past, we thank you for sticking with us at the most erratic and precarious stage of growth. To the present, thanks staying and fighting with us. And to the future, we have not yet met we are already excited to have you on board.
Shopback’s Co-Founder, Joel Leong will be speaking on Echelon Asia Summit 2016’s Create stage this June 15-16! Secure your tickets now to take your business to the next level with the tech pioneers of tomorrow.
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