Changing Direction to Save the Company

Here is another pearl of wisdom from Bootstrapping Your Business.

In many cases your first product or service will be partial success at best. Changing tack – moving to a different product sector or completely redesigning your offering – might be essential to save your business. But fear not. Most companies undergo radical transformations, and a great many undertake five or more changes of direction.

This is exactly what happened in my previous startup – Coromandel. We started with a goal to boil the ocean – built a SQL database engine. Licensed to a big time Unix vendor but the sales were lot less than we expected. Since we were bootstrapping, we took a small component from the engine and sold it as an ISAM file manager called C-Trieve. We got some traction. Then we improved it based on some customer requirements and added support for blobs. Called it ObjecTrieve. Luckily for us, this got into the Visual Basic market. VB 1.0 did not have any database functionality. After a couple of evolutions of the product, we came up with Integra VDB. In the first year we had about 2-3 million dollars of revenue from that product alone. While the space we were in was databases and application of databases, moving from an engine market to tools market did it for us. It was an entirely bootstrapped operation.

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