I hear so many start-ups unwilling to make a drastic change to their operations, even if they're running out of money. They seem so hell bent on making their original idea succeed, they forget the saying: Fail fast. Or maybe, they just want to keep their cushy salaries until they ultimately die.
But one start-up that made the brave move of letting go of employees to extend their runway is Turntable. Basically, it started over with $400,000 in the bank. It's one of the best start-up, pivot, do-what-you-have-to-do-to-survive stories in the Valley.
If you've been reading or watching VatorNews, then you're very familiar with the story behind Turntable.fm, which emerged out of a semi-successful earlier product called Stickybits. In this keynote that Billy Chasen, co-founder and product guru of Turntable.fm, gave at Vator and Bullpen Capital's Venture Shift NY event, Chasen talks about how he and partner Seth Goldstein made that pivot. Importantly, he talks about his fundraising experiences.
According to Chasen, it went from multiple rejections from notable venture capitalist Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures, to "craziness" to "very easy." Union Square Ventures eventually did invest $7 million in Turntable.fm. While he wasn't the lead person on the fundraising efforts (Goldstein shouldered that responsibility), he obviously was an integral part of the product. This leads Chasen to one of his lessons: Always find someone with complementary skills. Admittedly, Chasen said he doesn't have the skillsets to handle the financing and business development jobs at a start-up.
Watch the rest of the interview in which Chasen talks about how he and his team determined to release Turntable.fm after working on it in stealth mode for six months. And, how he managed to convince some of his investors to stick with Turntable.fm after the relatively poor performance of Stickybits.