How Will You Sell It?

At Stanford, I started a company with Warren and two business school students, Dan and Triss. We were a service for little people who didn’t meet the accreditation requirements of a hedge fund. We would take control of their brokerage accounts and execute aggressive trading strategies. If you’re familiar with today’s hedge fund ETFs, that’s essentially what we were doing in 2008. And if you used our service, you’d probably lose as much money as if you bought a hedge fund ETF today.


The team participated in S356 at the GSB, which is now known as Startup Garage. We had weekly meetings with our team advisor, Prof. Rohan. At the meetings, we tried to pretend like we loved each other, because he wanted to see a strong team. But I was secretly staging a coup.

The company had been my idea. Warren and I were doing the technical development. We were creating the trading strategies. Dan and Triss were going to parties and schmoozing. Networking, they called it.

Near the end of the quarter, I set up a private meeting with Prof. Rohan.

“I need to get rid of Dan and Triss,” I said. “They’re useless. They can’t write code. They don’t build anything. Why do we even need MBAs on the team?”

“I understand where you’re coming from,” he said. “But how will you sell it?”

“Our product will be so awesome that it’ll sell itself.”

“You need teammates who can sell the product.”

I don’t need teammates who can sell the product.

In the end, there was no product to sell. Warren and I went on strike. Dan and Triss hired some cheap software developers and replaced us. Then they went out of business.

In hindsight? The team was doomed to fail because 75% of the team members were self-important shits. Successful teams don’t don’t have self-important shits.

As far as Peer-to-Peer Postal goes, I’m stuck. I can hear Prof. Rohan all over again: “How will you sell it?” Okay, I get it now.


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