“What do you want to be when you grow up?” is a question that most people were asked at some point in their childhood. I know for me, the answer was “astronaut” as it should have been for any nerdy kid growing up in Florida during the high years of the Space Shuttle launches from Cape Canaveral. As I got older, the answer actually changed to “teacher”, then changed in University when I got my first taste of building web software and the effects it could have on the world around me. That’s a story for another time.
What I want to talk about here is the struggle for definition that rarebit is going through right now. Hilariously, with the recent press coverage we got, we were usually painted as some kind of big shot tech company who could bully around a multi-billion dollar business. Yeah, no. We’re currently two guys, two suitcases, a slowly dwindling bank account, and a series of upcoming conference talks. Oh, and this blog too.
Obviously, we hope to be much more than what we are today. I’ve helped build several businesses and have created more successful products than I could have ever imagined, and this time I’m doing it with my best friend, husband, and one of the smartest people I’ve ever met.
And, what we are today is on purpose. We need to take a break and figure out what we want to be when we grow up. I recommend this to anyone starting a business. Figure out what you want the END result to be. What do you want your company to look like?
Do we want to be a big company with thousands of employees? Do we want to stay small and maybe even just be the two of us forever? Do we want an office somewhere? Do we want to stay nomadic as a company? Do we want to only do software, or should we explore some industries we haven’t really worked in before?
At this point, we have few answers, but I think that asking the questions and then giving yourself time to process is the most important.
And, processing we are! We have gotten to meet with some awesome people so far on the trip, most notably spending time with the Slash7 team in Philadelphia to see how Amy and Thomas run their company. They tend to keep things small, casual, focus on finding great young talent to grow, and strongly believe in not raising money. Further, they believe that the growth of the company is not their main goal in life. They work on various projects, ideas, and types of work all with passion, but not obsession. We like their thinking!
For now, we’re probably going to do some freelance work just to keep the ‘funding’ in order. And we’ve given ourselves until the Fall 2014 to figure out exactly what we should start focusing on. Until then, it’s a nomad’s life for us!
Hampton Catlin is the creator of Sass, Haml, Tritium, and Wikipedia mobile. He’s one part back end developer, one part startup leader, and one part chaos monky. He’s also CEO of rarebit, which he co-founded with his husband. He speaks at a lot of conferences, writes a lot of code, and spends way too much time on Twitter at @hcatlin.