I’m excited to share that we’ve raised a seed round for Dunwello that will allow us to continue working toward our fundamental “why” – the belief that every person at every company should be both happy and productive.
I’m even more excited to share that we’ve been able to raise this round from exactly the kind of investors we were committed to including. More specifically, we were looking for people who individually and collectively:
- Share our fundamental belief and support our commitment to it
- Are passionate about company culture
- Are seed focused investors
- Can be sounding boards in specific areas of building the business
- Can help expand our network
- Are the kind of people we look forward to spending time with
The initial closing of the round was approximately $1.4M in total financing, well above the $1M original planned. Investors include NextView Ventures, G20 Ventures, BOLDstart Ventures, Vegas Tech Fund, Bridge Boys, Axel Bichara, Gautam Gupta, Jeremy Hitchcock and Mark Guadagnoli. We got such a positive response that we may include some additional investors not yet named.
In addition to investing:
- Rob Go will join me as the second member of our board of directors. I actually wasn’t planning to have any board roles associated with this round but feel strongly that Rob is exactly the kind of person we need on our board to build a meaningful and valuable business. I’m also excited to have Bob Hower participating in board activities as an observer. Bob and I met for the first time during this process (thanks to Mike Troiano) and I’ve quickly come to respect and appreciate his passionate and thoughtful approach to working with entrepreneurs to build great businesses. If you’re not familiar with his new fund, G20, you should check them out. I love their community centric approach that draws from leaders behind businesses like Acme Packet, Netezza and Actifio.
- Axel Bichara will begin serving as a formal advisor to the company. I’m excited about his participation for a variety of reasons. Not only does he have deep experience as an investor and director, but he joins us with great passion and knowledge of the space we are focused. That passion stems from his experience as an investor and director at Globoforce, a ~$200M run rate company that’s been built in our space.
- Mark Guadagnoli will also serve as a formal advisor, which he began doing at the inception of Dunwello. I’m excited to have Mark involved and knew I’d try to get him involved in whatever I did next after working with him as an executive coach and general advisor to the executive team at Gemvara. What I didn’t know was that what I’d start next would be so relevant to the science/psychology that Mark has dedicated his life to. His 20+ years of research on behavioral psychology and his experience from Zappos building culture-oriented initiatives are playing a huge role inspiring the Dunwello user experience.
In the case it’s of interest, I’ve included a few things below along with answers to a few questions I’ve gotten from people:
- Here is a link to where you can request access to dunwello. FWIW, I read every request (there are now hundreds of companies with at least one person requesting access) and thank you in advance for sharing one thing that makes you happy. I love that. Go for it: http://www.dunwello.com/users/new
- Here is a link to some slides we used for discussions with potential investors: http://www.slideshare.net/mattlauzon/announcement-slides-30805470
Here’s a little Q&A. Feel free to send along any other questions you have or ask in the comment section!
- Why are you in “stealth mode” instead of putting the product in the hands of users?
- The answer is two-fold but simple. The product is actually already in the hands of users but we’re being very controlled about rolling it out until we’ve nailed the product experience. Building great product takes time and it turns out that helping people be both happy and productive is nontrivial. We’re working tirelessly to provide a great experience when we fully launch the product.
- Why haven’t I heard anything from you since requesting access to Dunwello?
- Another two-fold, simple answer. First off, it was my job to manage communication here and I dropped the ball. Very sorry about that, hope this communication helps. Second, we absolutely will be getting everyone access eventually but there are hundreds of companies who have people requesting access so please be patient. We promise it’ll be worth the wait!
- Are you hiring?
- Great question. Yes. We are actively looking to grow the team starting with adding a new developer. If you are interested in joining us on the adventure, you should certainly check out the job description.
Anyone who has started a company knows how difficult it can be to sort through everything and prioritize time. I find it’s especially difficult to balance great focus on priorities within the business with more spontaneous meetings with people outside the business that may be a little more high beta. Meeting that person for coffee that ten people have told you is great may not have a clear purpose, but my experience is that the serendipity of such meetings sometimes can lead to extraordinarily value outcomes…
So, as I start something new I am thinking about experimenting with a “serendipity meeting” quote. In other words, I am thinking about saying yes to exactly three of these meetings a week. It feels like it may make it easier to say “no” more often, in a way that I can articulate without being a total jerk, and I also feel like it will give a solid lens to evaluate which “you two would love meeting” requests/suggestion to say yes to.
A couple years ago I met @billaulet for the first time. It was clear we share a passion for culture when it comes to building businesses.
Before I knew it, Bill was talking fast and drawing things and I will never forget the grid he drew for me. (I have re-drawn below) I am not sure his names are the most politically correct but they do a good job personifying the buckets :)
There are four quadrants. I think two are obvious and the other two really define how you will fundamentally operate when it comes to managing employee relationships.
Let’s start with the easy ones:
- "Stars" - This is absolute bliss. Someone is a great "fit" and they deliver amazing results. Not a lot of discussion needed here.
- "Dogs" - These people obviously need to go. You are doing everyone a disservice every day that goes by and they remain. It’s clear they are not a "fit" to everyone and they are not delivering "results. (note: they are well aware it’s not working and they probably are not very happy)
Now for the harder ones:
- "Terrorists" - This is a tough one. These people are likely phenomenal individual contributors (think about that top salesperson that’s way too cocky) but they are constantly bringing the team down. The reality is they probably won’t change, but you’ll justify that you can manage around it. Beware…the impact is probably the cultural equivalent to cancer that’s spreading.
- "Puppies" - This is probably the most emotional. These people likely have tremendous passion for the business, work very hard, but the results just aren’t delivering. IMHO, I would much rather spend more time making it work with these people…and do whatever it takes to make them stars.
So….WDYT? How do you think about the groups and managing the tougher two?