Today’s guest is Craig Walker who is the founder and CEO at Dialpad, makers of the awesome Uberconference. You will discover how he managed to survive the down cycle of the early 2000’s and eventually sell a company to Yahoo!, how to turn a bootstrapped company into a real company, and why you should always build for the future.
Surviving Down Cycles and Emerging Strong
A great lesson in Craig’s entrepreneurial career was the learning that you can get so much done with a small team made up of super committed, dedicated people; and that if you have a good product, it will sustain you. October 19, 2001 was the date that he started DialPad and they had 150 employees. By their next pay cycle, they only had 15. He literally had to lay off 135 people on his first week of work and yet with that group of 15, they were able to keep the lights on and continue to provide service worldwide as they have been doing before. They were able to restructure debts, raise more funds to move forward, slowly grew it the company back to being profitable until it got acquired by Yahoo! They had a good product, they just needed to figure out a good product model to sustain the business.
From Bootstrapped Into a Real Company
There are a lot of great entrepreneurs working on great ideas but despite this, it’s still hard to go out and market them. You might make the best mouse trap in the world but you have to get people to know about it. Unless you have other pieces, such as PR, yours will not turn into a real company and will just die in the vine. Getting from idea and prototype to the next level entails real focus on product and putting yourself in the customers’ shoes. If you can make yourself happy as you user of your product, it generally means that other users will be too. It’s a weird limbo land on how to get from point A to point B but there is no magic to it apart from zooming in on your product to make it more conducive to your users.