These past few months have been crazy in STORM. We started the 2014 with about 16 employees. We’re ending the year with around 50 employees and 60 more job openings.
After 5-6 years hovering at around 10-15 employees, we’re now scaling at an unprecedented level.
It’s been all sorts of crazy, but its been fun. It’s a riveting challenge to see just how far we can push this.
This sudden shift in scale started when we realized two years ago that, “Hey, we can be more than a niche player in the industry – we could help EVERYONE out with flexible benefits.”
We widened the aperture.
Stepping Back for a Wider View
Every once in awhile I would talk to an entrepreneur about ideas or actual products they would share with me to get advice.
In a lot of these ideas, I could imagine a LARGER opportunity NOT being pursued.
For example, there was one app idea which targeted Churches. As it was being explained to me, I thought: hey, this might work for ANY type of community.
I could see why he would think this way – he was an avid Church-goer who wanted to solve a specific problem.
That is awesome. Focus is good.
In doing this though, we might be missing a larger, still unserved market which would benefit from the same solution.
It is to our best interests then, to see what happens if we take a step back and try to see a larger opportunity we can capture.
This might be easier said than done. A number of us see the world with some filters which prevent us from seeing the possibilities.
Overcoming Our Narrow Filters
I realize that growing up in school and working in corporate taught me to have a very narrow paradigm.
Good grades will make great companies want you.
You have to go up the corporate ladder.
There is no shortcut. You have to pay your dues.
There is a salary scale.
Your expertise is limited to the Department you are in. (Finance guys know only Finance, HR guys know only HR, etc…)
It takes a special type of experience or exposure (an Ivy-leaguer, maybe someone who came from Apple or Google, someone extremely well-connected, etc…) to build a big firm.
I can never learn anything quickly enough to be an expert in it and compete. So might as well stick to what I’ve been exposed to.
These are all illusions.
Feel free to dream bigger. Once you get blinders like these off, you will begin to see how MUCH opportunity there is – to make a difference, to build something special, to help a larger number of people.
If there’s one person I know who exemplifies big-ger thinking, it’s Nix Nolledo.
I realize I’ve never talked about Nix in JGL (except when he was in Startups Unplugged). This is because I respected his approach to be low-key. But hey, I don’t think this is pretty low-key anymore:
Nix invested in STORM in 2013 and has been instrumental in helping us scale and grow.
What I’ve learned from Nix is looking at not only the big picture, but seeing if there’s an even bigger one hiding behind it. After every conversation with him, I’m always inspired to widen my horizons.
Of course, it helps that he lives this out. He dreams big and just goes after it. (That Inquirer story does a good job of documenting his path)
That Xurpas IPO is a huge, ballsy move. For me, it’s not only because of all the money they raised. It’s also because now, they are expected to grow much more than what they raised. They’re taking this challenge head-on, in a very public arena.
So Don’t Sell Yourself Short
This applies to everyone in the entrepreneurial path. Widen your aperture.
Yes, you can resign from your job and build something special.
Yes, you can find GREAT people to build your startup with.
Yes, you can scale and go to other countries.
Yes, you can go after a larger market.
Yes, you can build an awesome, world-class product.
Yes, you can pursue your dream and be practical at the same time.
Yes, you can.
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