Case study: How a lack of personal values can affect launching your startup

By 20/05/2015Case studies

A few weeks ago I had a presentation on Lean Startup at CSG. During coffee break, I was approached by CG who said he wanted to talk to me about a business proposal. I gave him my contact details.

A few days after the event, I receive the first email:

„I reiterate my invitation to meet in order to have a 30 minutes discussion about our project. The project consists of launching an IT platform with video recorded classes.

It will be good to meet in our studio at …, where we can show you exactly what we do.”

[ut_highlight color=”#ff6e00″]

I have a principle in order to be sure I don’t waste time, when meeting new people: I ask for the meeting agenda, so I know if I’m interested or not.

[/ut_highlight]

So I reply:

„What is our meeting objective? What do you need from me now?”

The next day, I receive CG’s answer, prompt and explicit:

„The reason for us meeting is to present our project and to establish the procedures for collaboration. I have the proposition for you to record a class that we can post, in order to sell it on our IT platform. We already have more than 25 classes recorded. We sign a contract so as to establish the selling price and each party’s share. The IT platform is currently under development, it will be launched soon.”

As CG has attended my presentation and has a landing page already, I presume he knows the Lean Startup principles. And has thought a bit before launching this kind of business, and knows how to differentiate his solution on the current market. Just to record and upload another video class, on other online education platform, on an already known subject, that is not attractive, yet I’ve thought he has a new and ingenious idea in order to sell better than the competition.

Here goes my answer:

„Thank you for the invitation. A few questions though J

  1. Why would your platform be more interesting for me than a well-known one, like, say, udemy?
  2. Why would your platform be more interesting for potential students than a well-known one like udemy?”

After a night, I receive the long-awaited answer:

„I will let you find the answers yourself. I’m sure you can! I will wait for you any time you want, so as to record the class.”

WOW…

So you need me for quality content on your platform(which is an MVP without validation), yet you afford to answer lightly and with a note of irony? Hmm, no matter what kind of know-how and abilities you have, the lack of personal values, such as respect, politeness, openness, are, to me, a big alarm signal. My life so far taught me that, no matter how smart they are and what their intentions are, those types of persons end up hurting me. And I reached a mature point in which I can identify them and choose not to work with them.

I replied in an instant:

„Your answer is unprofessional and lacks politeness. Please don’t contact me any further.”

[ut_highlight color=”#ff6e00″]

My learnings and a PS

[/ut_highlight]

I wouldn’t have spent 15 minutes in order to write about this, but I had an inspiring talk with my English teacher who recently went through something similar and decided to publish it on a specialized site. Our talk was about our lack of reactions, usually, when situations like the one above occur – when we are abused, cheated and so on. So I publish this content now, without any public name, so as not to make it a personal attack, but a lesson for other entrepreneurs.

[ut_highlight color=”#ff6e00″]

Did you have a similar experience? What did you learn?

[/ut_highlight]