I’ve intentionally shrunk Coiled from 40 to 20 people. This was painful, but we’re moving faster as a result. This article talks a little about the context around this.
Common failure mode for startups#
First, let’s acknowledge a common trope for startups:
Innovate to modest success
Raise a large venture round
Fail to deliver
Experience financial stress
This isn’t our story, but it would have been given time. I’m fearful that it will be the story for many startups that raised during the funding boom last year.
Startups over-raised last year#
Last year funding was easy. Many of us raised generous rounds, probably well before we could use the cash.
We hired lots of smart people thinking that more smart people would make us go faster. This wasn’t my experience. My experience was that adding more smart people was bad in two ways:
Increased inertia making it harder to perform the rapid pivoting that’s necessary for a young company
Increased intra-organizational burden, creating lots of work to integrate many working cultures
Innovation is king. Large organizations don’t innovate well.#
We’ve all experienced this personally. When we walk down a street with a single friend we walk quickly, even if we need to navigate around an obstacle like a construction site. When we walk down the same street with a gang of many friends we’re slow, and a construction site can become insurmountable.
Early stage startups are like navigating an entire city under construction, everyone needs to be able to pivot together at a moment’s notice. Large groups require a lot of social work in order to pivot. This work can become debilitating.
Fortunately we did this early#
We’re back at large-seed size with a generous many-year runway. We’re open to hiring folks, but only if we actively need their skillset and if we think that they’re a good culture fit for early-stage work (self-directed broadly-skilled folks). We’re not so interested in additional funding just now, we’ve got plenty of cash.
Back to work#
My calendar is clear of meetings, the team is aligned, and I am glad to be back to thinking about users, technology, and communication.