“Never give up”, “Don’t let failure stop you”, and “Never quit” are platitudes so overused that most tend to tune them out. Those in the technical startup realm may be more likely to ignore positive thoughts lately with tightening in VC funding. Rob Hull’s message to startups is to ignore the distractions and stay focused on your business. Unlike some cheerleaders out there, Hull knows what he is talking about and he never claims it is easy.
Hull is the founder of Adaptive Insights, a financial software company that is now worth over $1 billion. Hull shares his startup experience with other startup founders, and his message advises them to focus on the things startups can control rather than all of the factors that they cannot control. Sure, his company now has more than 3,000 customers in 85 countries, and the Gartner Magic Quadrant survey named Adaptive as the only all-cloud-based software this year, according to Business Insider. However, success was not something that Hull always saw as just over the horizon.
Hull said venture capitalists rejected his startup 70 times before the company finally secured funding. Hull does not sugar coat his success story, and paints a realistic picture for other startup founders. At one point, Hull had to stop taking a salary and considered selling the company. He struggled to convince CFOs and controllers that financial data would be stored in the cloud, but eventually the idea took off and so did Adaptive Insights.
Hull suggests that anyone with an idea needs to apply all of their focus on developing that idea or business. The better the product or service is, the higher chances are that a startup will receive funding. Hall also recommends that startups keep a close eye on costs and make shrewd spending decisions. Capital is a scarce commodity for a startup, and a closely managed cost structure could just be the key to success a startup is lacking.
While it may not be a great idea to take advice or criticism on a business idea from a family member or neighbor, Hall succeeded where others could not. It was not an easy process, but he credits determination and focus as his keys to success. So, if you tend tune out the other platitudes of “don’t quit”, it may be worth tuning in Hall’s message. It worked for him, after all.