Last Thursday, more than 500 people from the start-up community gathered in Washington State Convention Center downtown Seattle. They were there to watch nine entrepreneurs present their great ideas. These nine founders represented companies that graduated from the 4 month-long accelerator program at 9Mile Lab. 9Mile Lab focuses on cloud and software start-ups in the B2B space. Here are the highlights of the demo day.
The keynote speaker was Rajeev Singh, co-founder and COO of Concur. Concur was in the M&A headlines recently for its plan to sell to SAP for $8.3 billion dollars. While many entrepreneurs dream to have a large exit like this one, Rajeev told the audience that the goal should not be the exit but rather to “build a company that will last forever.”
I found the talk inspiring and really enjoyed Rajeev’s openness in sharing his startup journey. He, his brother, and best friend started building Concur 21 years ago and the past two decades were full of change and pivots. Here are a few of the Raj’s insights to help you think about your own journey as an entrepreneur:
On pivots and change
“Along the way, we made plenty of mistakes, but the willingness to change, and the willingness to bet on that change and the willingness to believe in what we thought was right because we knew our customer well, was essential to being able to build the company. The core of any pivots is ‘what are you trying to achieve?'”
“There’s a grounding quality to the people here. People aren’t concerned about where you have been and I think this city is poised to explode. Entrepreneurs here are not in it to flip it, but they are in it to build it.”
“The B2B space is challenging. It’s expensive to acquire customers and they are demanding. But it has real ROIs and that’s exciting.“
“You are supposed to fight and disagree. Try starting a company with your brother. But having a strong relationship with your founders enables you to cover ground fast.”
To read more about Rajeev Singh’s startup journey, check out Geekwire’s write up of the event.