The Island of Misfit Toys

26 Dec

It’s funny, most people (and by people I mean media, investors, interested onlookers) just don’t know what to do with us.  Tech people say we are too social, social people say we are too tech.  What box do we fit in? What sort of company ARE we anyway? Are we a social enterprise? Are we a tech startup?  Are we trying to make money or trying to save the world? PLEASE TELL US YOU ISLAND OF MISFIT TOYS! That’s really what we are (and so fitting for Christmas)- the island of misfit toys.  I couldn’t tell you what box to check because honestly, those definitions keep changing every day, I can hardly keep up.  But at the end of the day, the classification all comes down to money.  How you get it and what you do with it.

All organizations around the world create value.  The more capitalistic leaning organizations try to capture that value monetarily.  For example, Google captured $17B of their value monetarily last quarter.  The American Red Cross captured $3B of theirs last year. Does that mean that Google provides 6x more value for the world than the Red Cross?  No- it just means they do a better job of monetarily capturing it.  That’s not good or bad, it just is.

Funding structures inform how a company operates.  If you need to pursue grants, you need to tell funders at least a year in advance exactly how you are going to spend the money to hit the milestones that they set.  Which is fine, if you know exactly how you are going to hit your goals a year from now. I would argue that if you are a fast moving tech company, you should never be able to predict exactly how you are going to spend that money to hit that goal a year from now, even 6 months from now.  If you can do that, I don’t think that company is moving fast enough in the agile framework.  Innovation isn’t happening at a rate that would make it competitive in the pure tech startup space.  So the reason the startup wouldn’t qualify for grant funding isn’t because it isn’t making the social impact it said it would (because it would actually do it in half the budget, half the time), but it just outgrew the plan it had in place a year ago for the way in which goals would be accomplished. In the grant world, line items matter. Not so much in the investment space- we give you money, make us more of it. Period.  Again, not bad or good- it just is.

So us.

We move fast and break things. I can’t tell you how we are going to be operating even 3 months from now, but I can tell you it’ll be radically different (and by different I mean better faster stronger) from today.  We put humanity on a more positive trajectory. We believe in good design.  We know what you, the user, wants before you even know you want it.  We will never offer a technology we don’t genuinely believe will help solve a problem you have.  Another thing- we don’t make up user problems.  (Personal pet peeve).  We believe that if you create tremendous value in the world, the money will follow.  And we plan to capture a significant portion of that monetarily (just to be clear).  We love creating, innovating, and pushing the boundaries of what is currently possible. We are those crazy people you sit next to on the bus/train/plane that are talking to themselves,head-phoned in, as they vigorously scribble chicken scratchy doodles into their beat up notebook (ok that may just be me).

But that’s where we are at right now.  The Island of Misfit Toys.  Otherwise known as Team NextDrop.  And I don’t think it’s going to get any clearer in the future.  We will continue to be those outcasts in this tech/social/whatever else is out there world. Which is fine by us.  Misfits are awesome.  Because I said so.

And hey, if you want to a part of this misfit island, we are always looking for people to join our tribe and hack with us.

Happy Holidays

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