I started out as a sales person. I had a quota, I had a territory, and I had to make an image. So, my bias is always revenue. Whether I’m talking to a young company or I’m talking to a division manager in a big company, I always start with: how are the numbers, are you making your name, are they growing or are they shrinking, is your margin growing or shrinking?
When you look at a young company and you look at its fundability, the number one thing is marketing. Do you have a customer? Do they have a problem? Can you fix that for them? Do they want you to solve that? Do they trust that you can? It’s based on that relationship. I’ve spent my career in technology businesses. I spent part of it in startups, but I also spent part of it in turnarounds. And the turnaround is where the founding team wasn’t able to execute on the plan and normally that’s revenue based. So, I’ve come into a number of cases and looked at who they were selling to and found that it wasn’t predictable, it wasn’t successful, people bought from friends. I was with one company in the conferencing business, it was supposed to be an enterprise sale. I went to the company, I sold it to people I knew in the enterprise, and then I realized it wasn’t predictable. I couldn’t figure out who the buyer was. So we stepped back and we sold it to service companies who were starting to sell to the enterprise and we built our business selling to service companies. So it’s all about- do you have a customer? Is it repeatable? Is it scalable?
So, I always start with revenue. Turnarounds have taught me you can change the players. It’s also taught me if you’ve got a company with a bad culture and you can’t change the culture, without changing the players. And if you don’t have a source of revenue with a customer, you don’t have a business.