Why We “Startup”: Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose

By Paul Teshima in Leadership

It’s been 90 days since we founded Nudge, and things are moving along quite nicely.  We have a working prototype, we have an office, we have some capital, our first hires started last week and at some point along the way I remembered why we “startup”.

Clear Eyes

Every person who has joined Nudge so far, has asked to take time off before they start.  When I agree, they then ask “well what can I do before I start, so I can be more prepared.”  Despite the immense pressure of the upcoming milestones, I tell them “I would rather you do nothing in advance.  Better to clear your head, take some time, and come in ready to do something different.”

There is nothing like the feeling of starting from a BLANK slate, and being able to actually answer the question “if you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?”. Usually we can only answer in the hypothetical, and then are bogged down by the reality of constrained resources, or a huge weight of technical debt.

Startups give you a fresh start.  They allow your mind to be unconstrained, and allow a free flow of discussion that is not burdened by the past or present.  It is during this time, that you truly get to set the vision for your business, and can see a path to change the world.

Our mission at Nudge is to “bring the business world closer together, one nudge at a time“.  We are starting by focusing on the challenge of one-to-one communication with your weak ties, but there are many more things to come.

Clear Eyes Mean a Mind and Vision Unconflicted by Doubt or Fear.

Full Hearts

It was my co-founder Steve Woods, who asked for a meeting Day 6 and said “it is time we talk about a few squishy things.”  Squishy things? From the guy who figured out how to digitize someone’s body language? “Yes (he said), it’s time we talk about culture”.

Now I believe that culture is the one of most important things a founder needs to set in a startup.  There have been some great articles written on that recently, and I also wrote about how to build a culture that sticks through storytelling in a blog a few weeks ago.  So it was an important meeting to have.

When I asked Steve what type of culture he wanted, he immediately replied“I want to have a culture that bets on people.”  I knew exactly what he was talking about.  A culture that bets on people, has to put them first even in the toughest of times, when real business risk exists.

  • Place a bet on promoting someone from inside instead of hiring someone with “more experience” from the outside for an important new role
  • Place a bet that machine learning can only take you so far, and the skills of people need to fill the final gap
  • Place a big bet that in the future, successful sales people will value their network of real business relationships more than anything else

Nudge is as much about the people aspect of building business relationships as it is the technology.  I am very passionate about our “bet on people”.

Full Hearts are Engaged and Full of Passion.

Can’t Lose

Being in a startup the second time round gives you the ability to see further out than before.  You know that it will be fun, but also hard.  When I think back through my last big success at Eloqua, it wasn’t the IPO on the NASDAQ or the final signature on our acquisition that I remember the most.  Yes those moments were great, but it was the countless challenges and triumphs in-between that stick with me.  It is pretty incredible what a group of motivated people can do because they love the journey.  Some of my top “journey” moments were:

  • 2001: taking turns sleeping in our office for 2 weeks, so we wouldn’t get kicked out before we could pay our rent.
  • 2004: after 8 weeks of delays, 24 rollouts of fixes, seeing our customer’s (Seagate) eyes light up when we turned on the first ever Eloqua to salesforce.com integration.
  • 2007: as we celebrated modern marketing excellence, seeing how proud the first “Markies” award winners were of their own hard fought accomplishments.
  • 2011: my feeling of gratitude for the incredible work from my team, when they held a surprise “goodbye roast” for me as I transitioned to running product management.

We love the journey, because it is through the smaller challenges and successes we grow, and where the true passion of others inspire us to do more.

Can’t Lose, Because By Taking This Journey You Have Already Won.

We startup because we want the chance for a vision unencumbered by the past

We startup because we want to do something great, with great people.

We startup because we will savor the journey more than the finish line.

Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose

It works for me – does it work for you?  If so, come join us.

Paul Teshima
CEO and Co-founder