Ten years ago, Tyler tate and I got ready to take the stage and introduce Nutshell to the world. Ten is just a number, but I thought I’d take the opportunity to share some personal observations from Nutshell’s first decade.
A year before our launch, my co-founder Guy Suter put together a small team and shared a vision for a product that addressed what was lacking in sales CRM software:
- A pleasant user experience
- Mobile applications (that was in 2010!)
- Automation to fuel a sales process
And so we got down to work. We chose to unveil Nutshell at the Future of Web Design conference because we felt so strongly about being part of the design community. For a few thousand dollars, we sponsored the afterparty, and we earned ourselves a moment in the spotlight.
With free screen wipes in our sweaty palms, we took to the stage to share our launch story:
- Most web software is ugly and downright hostile to users (lots of nods)
- Building something from scratch is an absolute joy (smiles heard)
- We can do even better if we don’t have to support Internet Explorer 6 (audible gasp)
- Here’s a live demo, to show what we’ve done so far
- The drinks are on us! (applause)
From fire to fire
But the launch was not the finish line. And that’s when I started to realize that our real work was just beginning.
The day before our launch, we found out that Solr – a crucial infrastructure – would shut down after seven (!) Accounts were created. Total showstopper. One late night and one early morning and we were back to business.
The day after our launch, we debated what to do with the fire hose of messages arriving at [email protected].
A week later, we realized that a CRM really needed a contact list – something we had been so confident about was not a requirement.
Six months later, it became apparent that paying an intern to write custom code for each CSV import wasn’t going to scale.
And then a year later, the office roof started leaking onto the server that held all of our customers’ credit card data. (We’ve learned a lot about PCI compliance since!)
And so we went, from challenge to obstacle to emergency.
It turns out that starting a business is a lot like Mark Watney, stuck on Mars: “You have just started. You do the math, you solve one problem, and then you solve the next. And if you solve enough problems, you can go home. ”
During the troubleshooting we looked up and Nutshell served thousands of customers, along with dozens of team members. And for us, “coming home” was winning the right to continue the journey.
The process> the goal
We talk a lot about “results-based management” or “starting with the end in mind”. And that’s fine, but it has never been linked to me. I would be lying if I said I had an idea of what Nutshell would look like ten years after we took the stage.
James Clear writes about this in Atomic habits, comparing goals and process. If you only focus on the finish line – the launch, the sale, or the right quarter – you’ll have a hard time getting there.
But if you can find joy in the process: walking to the whiteboard, opening the laptop, starting a new document, starting an SSH session, or picking up the phone… that’s the dream. And you are more likely to achieve your goal.
Put your name on it
And I’ll tell you the best part of those ten years.
Working with the Nutshell team is simply amazing. From a founding team loaded with confidence and experience working together, to today’s growing team who bring new perspective, energy and empathy.
The interior of the Macintosh is signed by the people who created it. We took this idea and made it one of our values: “Put your name on it.”
Some time ago we added a companion to our SEO robots.txt file, humans.txt. It’s one of the many ways we sign off on our work (and keep some cheesy roots).
I have no idea what Nutshell will look like in ten years. But I have a pretty good idea of what that will look like next year.
In January we will remove the envelopes our biggest project to date. We don’t have a scene to jump in from, screen erasures are over, and now is not the perfect time to throw a party. But the finish line was never the point.
We enjoy the journey, with every problem we solve for our customers.