Tuesday, July 19, 2011

How I Lost Millions and Lived to Tell About It

Yesterday my senior blogger friend Brian Gardner has sent me a story about his great experience in online business. I think his story is very useful to share for other bloggers. Therefore I have quoted it below.

Every season on America’s Funniest Videos you’ll see a clip of some poor fellow getting punk’d by his friends or family.
He’s the guy seen scratching some lottery ticket and thinks he just won a lot of money. You may see him start running around with his arms flailing, kissing anything in sight. While he thinks he hit the mother load, they were just playing a trick on him.

Back in 2009, that was me.
Not quite the same situation, and most definitely not being punk’d. This was real.
When a Deal Falls Through
I’m sure most of you don’t know this, but nearly two years ago I came THIS close to selling StudioPress, a company that I founded which develops premium WordPress themes.
Nearly everyday you can read on Mashable about startups that are bought by larger companies or investor groups. On that site, more than likely those deals which are announced fall within the millions of dollars – and some of them even into the billions.
I was less than two weeks away from having a story like that of my own – not to say that Mashable would have covered it, but StudioPress was a few hundred hours from changing hands. Two weeks from me and my family having a pay day that many dream about.
The saying goes, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, right?
So What Happened?
I won’t go into all of the (gory) details, but ultimately things didn’t work out. It was disappointing because I was really excited about the opportunity to stay onboard with them and continue to run StudioPress.
I had plans to make it grow, to strategize and to see how far I could take it with greater resources at my disposal.
I visited their office twice, and got to know some of the employees – whom I really liked and knew I’d work well with.
Everything during the due diligence round checked out – but the bottom line was the investors weren’t completely onboard. And I respected that, even though it was really difficult to hear.

Living to Tell About It
You might be asking why I am sharing this somewhat personal situation – and the answer is simple. I’m an entrepreneur, as many of you who are.
We share commonalities with things that are somewhat trivial (like web browsers), and also with things that affect us on a much higher level.
When things don’t go our way, we have the option to sulk and let it (negatively) affect how we do life. The other option, which is usually much more difficult, is to identify the silver lining in a could that feels pretty dark.
Even though the multi-million dollar deal fell through, I learned a lot – from the process itself, and also finding fortune in what I still had. An opportunity to take that business which I had built to places it had never been.

The Silver Lining in My Dark Cloud
Less than a year after the deal fell through, I made a business decision that I believe was the silver lining in the dark cloud. 9 months ago I proudly came together with 4 incredible people to form Copyblogger Media.
When one door closes (or in my case slams), at some point another will open.
Of course from time to time I think about what could have been – but looking back it might have been the best thing for me as an individual and StudioPress as a company.
Within the past 9 months, StudioPress sales have doubled. In March we launched Premise – a tool for building landing pages. Scribe SEO saw a great update in version 3.0.
I’ve become the Chief Product Office at Copyblogger Media.
The Genesis Framework is now being used on over 300,00 sites.
Somehow I think you get the picture, that I don’t regret what happened – even if it meant not having that big pay day. I learned a very important lesson, and I’m quite content.
When the deal fell through, another door opened…


Anonymous said...

It's very useful experience to learn. Thanks for sharing.

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Multibrand said...

An interesting story.

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Umihoney said...

Thank you for sharing. We live and learn

Setyo-Utomo Said said...

@Umihoney: Really appreciate your comments. Terima kasih !

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