Founder Field Trips

Bryce Roberts
Sep 19, 2017 · 3 min read

A harsh reality of modern entrepreneurship is that most founders have never worked for a profitable company.

For first time founders leaving engineering or product manager roles at large, profitable tech companies, many have never touched the monetization efforts within those orgs.

And, many of the new VCs they choose to work with have neither worked at nor funded a profitable company.

Given that profitability is rarely the goal of VC backed founders or investors, it’s natural that they have a fairly theoretical view of what it means, how it is achieved and what kinds of companies would set it as a goal. Unfortunately, many see profitability as a sort of concession that they’ve failed to capture the totality of their ambitious vision.

That’s simply not true.

Some of the greatest experiences we’ve had over the last few years of have been spending time with founders who’ve chosen non-traditional routes for building their businesses.

Some have completely bootstrapped, with no outside investment. Some have chosen to bootstrap for years, then raise massive rounds of funding from traditional investors for liquidity or as a step towards getting access to the people and resources on board to prepare for an IPO. Many have raised small amounts from friends and family to get going and scaled on revenue. Others raised from traditional investors early then made the bold move to get off the fundraising treadmill to blaze their own path on their own terms.

Control, freedom, customers, independence, company culture are just some of the values we hear these founders working to embody in their businesses. Their ambitions for the companies they’re building and the markets they hope to impact mirror, and often dwarf, those of their VC funded peers. We feel so fortunate to have heard so many of these stories first hand and we want more founders to hear them too.

So, we’re trying something new that we call Founder Field Trips.

The idea is pretty simple- organize field trips to visit these founders and hear the lessons they’ve learned and the tradeoffs they’ve made in reaching “venture scale” without traditional venture capital.

These will be single day events that give visiting founders access to a wide range of leaders in various functional areas such as sales, marketing, finance, product and engineering. The goal is to gain a better understanding of how companies are organized and decisions are made when customers, revenue and profitability are the focus.

Our first Founder Field Trip will be on November 8th in Cambridge, Mass with the team at Wistia.

For those not familiar, Wistia has built a low-to-mid 8-figure revenue business selling video hosting and marketing solutions. Founded in 2008, and only having raised a small amount of angel investment, they’ve grown their business profitably and developed a cult like following among their customers. Over the years, they’ve literally seen it all- inbound interest from VCs, aggressive acquisition offers, pressure from shareholders, massively funded competitors. Yet, all along they’ve been mindful of the company culture they’ve wanted to build and the customers they serve.

Given the intimate nature of these field trips, space will be extremely limited and FrieNDAs will be expected. As such, we’ve set up a short application where you can tell us a bit about yourself and what you’d hope to get out of attending if selected.

If you’re selected you’ll be on the hook for expenses getting to and from the Boston area. We’ll host an optional kickoff dinner the night of November7th where participants can get to know each other better before the day long session on the 8th. Breakfast and lunch will be provided for attendees on the 8th.

If you’re a team who’s bootstrapped to $500k to $5M in revenue and are looking to learn how to grow to the next level, a funded founder looking to build a Real Business, or simply curious we think you’ll enjoy hearing and learning from the Wistia team.

Applications will be open until Friday September 29th.

Apply now for a chance to attend our first Founder Field Trip.

Strong Words

Independent Thinking for Independent Businesses

Bryce Roberts

Written by

VC, Dad

Strong Words

Independent Thinking for Independent Businesses

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