When Your Tech Idea Isn’t Sexy — Founders’ Failings Series
Featuring Xometry’s Randy Altschuler
On Tuesday, Apple hosted it’s annual reveal of products for the upcoming year. For the first time, the event was held in the Steve Jobs theater — a brand-new venue on Apple’s futuristic campus. Complete with leather couches and enough space to hold the hundreds of journalists that made the annual pilgrimage, it was, in many ways, the sexiest tech event of the year.
From suspenseful reveal videos to executive speeches about “breathtaking” new design features, Apple did an amazing job at playing to the dramatic and creating an atmosphere of excitement around it’s newest products — a time-tested strategy that flawlessly creates a circular loop of media buzz and consumer interest.
But at the latest Founders’ Failings event, Xometry CEO and founder Randy Altschuler and Model B co-founder Ashtan Moore encouraged a discussion that looked at a very different side of the technology world. More specifically, what is a founder to do when their tech idea isn’t sexy?
It’s a problem that strikes a lot of founders, because not all concepts have the immediate sex appeal of a brand new smartphone. But in the business world, every founder is responsible for being a salesman of their creations and success (or failure) can often be tied to an ability to communicate the value proposition of your offering.
Randy shared with the group that he has built his career off niche industries that are often overlooked — further stating that these industries are frequently ripe for monumental disruptions. He went on to discuss how his company Xometry has dealt with the need for clear and concise value communication in its path to becoming a serious disruptor in the manufacturing industry.
As with most of the Founders’ Failings events to date, a large portion of the event was spent with audience members lobbing questions at the featured speaker. From maintaining employee moral to methods for responding to criticism, Randy offered some great advice to audience members. Here are some of his key points…
1: Criticism is always a good thing — you just need to chose how to respond to it.
Whether it’s a potential investor that doesn’t get your concept or an employee that has a different vision for the future, Randy pointed out the criticism is one of the primary sources of meaningful change in young organizations. He went on to state that successful companies are ones that are able to process criticism in a meaningful way, ultimately making themselves better for having been presented with a different point of view.
2: Don’t be afraid to change your concept
It is common for young founders to be super passionate about their ideas (and they should be), but there should always be a difference between an idea being a company’s identity vs. it’s core mission. As mentioned above, Randy pointed out that founders are inevitably going to receive criticism of their concepts and that it is important to respond to criticism positively — even if that means changing your idea.
3: Recruit people that buy into your idea, not a check list of must-have resume items
Although Randy provided a number of suggestions and insights, the one that really seemed to stick was that when young companies are recruiting employees, they should look for people that are excited and motivated by the core concepts of the business — not just an individual that satisfies a checklist of must-have resume items.
It was Albert Einstein that once said “[t]he only source of knowledge is experience.” Unfortunately for the grinders, movers, and shakers of the modern business world, experience comes from time — a resource that is critically under supplied and over demanded. Founders’ Failings was started to offer everyone the opportunity to learn from the experiences, successes, and failures of business people like Randy Altschuler.
From this most recent event, we learned about establishing and growing a non-mainstream tech idea, taking leaps of faith in industries that could be ripe for disruption, and maintaining company culture as you grow.
We all loved getting to learn a little more about Xometry and the interesting work they are doing in manufacturing and are looking forward to continuing the Founders’ Failings event series in October — details will be announced soon.
About Model B:
Model B is a technology-enabled managed services firm that offers support to companies — from major corporations to early-stage start-ups — in areas critical to growth and scale. We bring together the knowledge of serial entrepreneurs, digital marketers, angel investors, finance professionals, and communications consultants to provide strategic guidance for our clients.
Xometry is your one-stop shop for manufacturing on demand. Recently voted one of “DC’s Coolest Companies,” we bring together manufacturing and technology to provide 24/7 access to instant pricing, expected lead time and manufacturability feedback on custom parts for engineers and designers across the U.S.
Xometry’s online quoting portal and nationwide network of hundreds of partner manufacturing facilities guarantees consistently fast lead times while offering a broad array of capabilities, including CNC Machining, 3D Printing, Sheet Metal and Casting.