Many years ago, when I just started my venture, I met up with my friends, Sunny and Wally in their office. They were my seniors during my undergraduate days. We had bumped into each other by chance. At that time, they had also started their own venture, an Internet security company in the nascent days of Singapore Internet.
Their office was on the second floor of a restored building at China Town. At that time, it was hip and all the rage for Internet companies to be housed in such buildings. For me, I was trying to cut cost and instead of a garage (like many successful American dot com), I was working out of the study room of my HDB unit.
We were just shooting the breeze late one night and one of them asked me about my exit strategy. I instinctively turned my head in the direction of the exit of their office and looked in that general direction. In my mind, I was thinking, was it because their office was in an old restored building so it was also potentially a fire hazard? They wanted me to know where to escape if a fire broke out?
My friends didn’t pursue any further when I kept quiet and looked confused.
It was really many years later when I finally understood the meaning of “exit strategy” when it was asked by fellow entrepreneurs. I still get that question these days when I meet other entrepreneurs. In fact, it was just a few months back when I met an entrepreneur who had sold his venture and he asked me if I would be interested to sell mine. I was quiet.
Through the years, I’ve come to realise many fellow entrepreneurs’ exit strategy were to sell their venture. Why sell? I wondered.
In all honesty, after 11 years, I’ve never considered seriously any exit strategy. I started with no business plan and no venture capital. I didn’t seek funding when I started because I wanted to make my own decisions. I don’t want regrets in being forced to make a decision that is not my own.
Anyway, I never expect any venture capitalist (VC) to be interested in a local wedding portal. I do have ideas and plans on how I want to build SingaporeBrides.com but I just never thought that it was necessary for me to have it in a word document or printed format since I wasn’t planning to present it to any VC anyway. All the plans and ideas are stored in my head. :p
When I started, I had hoped that my venture would be something that will consume and occupy my lifetime. I had always wanted to build a venture and see it grow to a mature company and contribute in my small ways to the Singapore economy by providing employment. I always thought that all ventures were built with the intention to last beyond the entrepreneur’s life time and I thought the passage of time meant something to a brand. I still do.
Having an “exit strategy” should not be the only endgame in an entrepreneur’s venture. You can choose to build a product that you would want to work in your lifetime. Without thinking of “exit strategy”, I focus my full attention to just building a good product.
Maybe due to all the publicity showered on technopreneurs’ by the media on the successes of Apple, Facebook, Google and how the founders become billionaires, it made many entrepreneurs dream to become the next Steve Job, Mark Zuckerberg or Larry Page and Sergey Brin.
After 11 years, my passion and dream had not changed. Even though I know now what “exit strategy” means, I still did not give it much thought and will continue to build a venture that will last. I still have many ideas and plans that I want to see it realise. Now that I’ve more resources and a good team in place, it is time to start realising many ideas which I couldn’t implement when I started. I’m going to build my venture one digital bit by one digital bit. I’m not thinking small but I’m aiming for organic growth.
Just like Amy Hoy, I want to build things, help people and be happy. I want to continue to build my dream Till the World Ends.
Britney Spears – Till The World Ends