I watched an interview of Quek Siu Rui, CEO of Carousell, on Bloomberg TV. He spoke about being lucky enough to work on a product that he cares about passionately.
But which came first? Passion or traction?
Will Sui Rui be working on Carousell if he was not able to raise a seed round? Will Sui Rui be working Carousell for three years without an income? And even if he does, will his cofounders follow suit?
A couple of years ago, I struck gold with Gom VPN after a tumultuous period with Unifide and Spawt. But even as the revenue of Gom VPN grew to a point for which it could support a five-person team, the growth was decelerating. The product hit stagnation as the rate of churn matched the rate of growth. It did not help that the VPN scene was extremely competitive.
To overcome stagnation, I hired two engineers, and we worked at Gom for a full year. And we did things in the name of growth. For example, we launched the VPN on Indiegogo. We messed with the growth engine. There was some growth, but the cadence of work did not match the pace of progress. There was gloom in the (office) room because
- The competition was getting stiff(er)
- The competition was offering it for free
- (Due to timing of entry) I was not the market leader, and the gap was widening
This was when I decided to work on Kloudsec. To invest our cash flow into the next product in hopes of finding another product that had a significantly larger potential than Gom VPN.
Discipline and morale
I will like to think I am disciplined. I have worked out consistently since I graduated from national service. I quit durian, my favorite fruit, on a whim because I wanted to know if I can. I can.
But discipline is not enough to eke out morale. I have to believe in the product and in it's potential to succeed in the market. I knew NuMoney had to pivot when I stopped believing that cryptocurrencies will repeat the magic that the internet has done to our lives in the last 20 years.
Instead, I posit that morale is an equation of a cadence of predictable progress that arrives in step with the hustle of day to day work. Discipline defers the need for predictability. But the extent of discipline is finite, particularly so when you have bills to pay as I do.
It is human nature to demand predictable progress
As an employee, you will expect that pay raises and promotions occur predictably in tunes with your tenure in the company.
If you are exercising, you will expect to lose some weight and gain muscle definition.
It is, therefore, human nature to demand predictable progress, even when it comes to working. For my staff, I assign and frame tasks for which the outcome is predictable as best as I can.
I try to work on things that I am good at and have control over.
Life is hard, so I try to find a path that keeps pays off in small ways every day to keep myself motivated. Sapiengraph CCTV was an example of a path that meandered too fast into a spot that I lost interest in. So I hit the reset button and brought the company's focus on what we are good at. Consumer software. My pursuit for leveraged cadence with exponential progress is how I stay sane and keep my head above the water.