I got a note that Justin Sachs is launching a book to over 500K this week and is looking to feature short success stories of entrepreneurs who have created extraordinary results through the power of persistence. This book contains the most uplifting and impacting stories of how persistence has shaped the greatest leaders in business and life in general. I was asked to contribute – and here is my response. (And if you would like to contribute, you can find the form at http://jotform.com/form/93202553161)
“From $1 to $20 million – 500 horrible decisions to an IPO. And that was just taking the company public, to say nothing of creating the business in the first place.
I started Imaginatik in 1994. I had been doing a Ph.D. at Cass Business School in London in the area of collaborative applications. It turns out I was one of the first people in the world to use computer server log data to track how individual users interacted with computers, and with each other. I started the company with nothing more than a vague idea of turning my doctoral work into something useful. First time out the gate – almost bankrupt in six months. I had managed to win contracts but lacked the capabilities of delivering (having hired the wrong people). I was 25 at this time, $45K in debt (unsecured). Rather than give up, I set myself a target: I had one year to pay all the money back, have $10K in the bank, and have money coming in… or I would give up my dream of being an entrepreneur and get a safe job in a consulting firm. I did it in 10 month
The company (www.imaginatik.com) provides services and software for Collaborative Innovation and Collective Intelligence. To describe it to my mother, I’d say “suggestion box on steroids”. For a corporate client, it is an infrastructure – people and technology – to help companies solve problems cheaper, faster, better using mass brainpower, sourced from inside and outside their organizations. Now this sounds like a sensible idea… it did not when we got started!
Winning clients was a challenge. Inventing the software was a challenge (no one on the team had real software experience). Not having money was an even bigger challenge (I founded the business with a partner, my partner in real life, and she and I took turns to NOT get paid for six years).
But in the end, things worked out. In spite of all odds, we took Imaginatik public in Dec 2006 on the London Stock Exchange. Our net worth changed from minus $800,000 to plus… a much larger number (and I still own half of the public company.
Some things to bear in mind:
- make sure the dream you are chasing is meaningful – and if it works, it works REAL BIG
- most people who are negative about your vision are doing so because it is in their nature… and sadly they are likely to be proved right
- the return of doing something really big is so substantial… and you have to do something with your life anyway, that if you dare and can persist, the end result is worth the journey
CEO, Imaginatik plc