Thursday, June 28, 2007

True Story #2 (from my Book) - The Lesson of "Listening to your Customers"

The "Adobe" Story

As told by Charles Geschke

This theme will seem utterly repetitive by now, but like almost every other startup, Adobe set out to build the wrong thing. We envisioned creating a computer/printer combo package that we would sell as a complete self-publishing solution. We were approached by Digital Equipment and later Apple, who were both very interested in the printing software we had developed.

By this point though, Adobe had raised $2.5MM in funding under the story that we would sell the computer/printer combo package and we were stubbornly clinging to the original plan in spite of two large potential customers begging them for just the software.

We went back to our board and received the sage advice from the chairman to ditch the plan and listen to our customers. Q.T. Wiles said,

“You guys are nuts. Throw out your business plan. Your customers - or potential customers - are telling you what your business should be. The business plan was only used to get you the money. Why don’t you rewrite a business plan that is focused just on providing what your customers want?”

We followed the advice resuming talks with DEC and Apple and soon after closed deals with both. The rest is history.

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