When you go to a tech meetup, tech party, or read tech headlines, it’s easy to get swept away into thinking things are soaring for a number of startups. Company xyz now has a zillion users, another company just went viral, overnight sensation, etc.
It’s easy to fall in love with those headlines or worse, it’s easy to be distracted.
The truth of the matter is that it hardly ever goes straight up and to the right.
When you dig into the history of these companies the real thing to fall in love with is the founders/employees drive to dig through the pain over an extended period of unease, stress, unknown, fear and make something valuable.
The story hasn’t been fully written but consider companies like Tumblr, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Foursquare, Fab, AirBnB and plenty others.
They didn’t start out as rocket ship. Quite the contrary. They started off rather slowly and bumpy.
The risk of not paying attention to the reality of how these companies evolved is that you can have unrealistic expectations – as founders, employees and investors.
This stuff takes time. And a lot of time. That’s why “build to flip” isn’t realistic either (or interesting to me even if it was). It’s important to build a company from top to bottom with that mindset.
The latest example of a story of patience and persistence is OMGPOP. Since the day back in 2008, when we led the first VC round with $1M, the company has created really fun, social games on their own website. Growth has been good but never blew up.
Over time, the team showed progress and raised another $15MM in a few rounds over the years but still never really took off in crazy rocket ship way.
Then approx 3 weeks ago, (almost 4 years after their series A) the company launched their 2nd iOS game – Draw Something.
They launched it by first promoting it to their core users on their website, then they put a tiny bit of money behind it for a few days – and since then haven’t spent another dollar on marketing.
It took off. In the first 10 days they had a million installs with very high retention. Since Monday of this week, they have been the #1 overall paid app and #1 free app in the iOS app store in the United States and in another 25 countries. Today they have over 6M users of Draw Something
Like the other companies mentioned above, the story isn’t fully written about the future of OMGPOP. There is still plenty of risk and obstacles in front of them like scaling the massive traffic, competitive threats, etc.
But the team should be very proud. I’m so happy for the people at that company that never gave up and pushed through.
It’s an amazing thing to watch.
(disclosure: we are investors in tumblr, twitter, foursquare and omgpop)