Happy 15th Birthday Gorilla Logic!

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Happy 15th Birthday Gorilla Logic!

On the one hand, I’m proud to hit the milestone. On the other hand, I’m thinking, “Aren’t I supposed to be a startup zillionaire by now?”

But, hey, Gorilla Logic has not only beaten the odds in becoming a successful business, we’ve outgrown the “small business” designation and have officially joined the “medium-sized enterprise” ranks. And we did it without funding. Gorilla Logic is a bootstrap, although as is so often the case with companies that manage to succeed without venture capital, that wasn’t our intention. When we launched the company in 2002, Plan A was to use other people’s money to build a high-tech empire, but we were never able to convince investors to give us a chance.

Happy Birthday Gorilla LogicFor every company that gets funded, there are ten more who can’t raise a dime, and for every ten that do get funded, only one will succeed. A “typical” startup success story is literally one-in-a-hundred. So, to the 99% of my fellow founders out there who will fail to follow the script, allow me to offer a story you might find even more inspirational.

It’s a story where you and your best friend quit your high-paying jobs, cut your living expenses dramatically and literally bet your homes on being able to pursue your passions and build a business together. You think it’s going to be relatively straightforward to raise money for your Big Idea, but quickly learn it’s every bit as hard as everyone said it would be.

You have your moments of doubt and even contemplate returning to corporate-dom, but your partner continually renews your faith and convinces you to keep going. Still, your savings begin to run alarmingly low, and you start looking for little ideas to make a little money. Eventually, a few of those little ideas form the basis of a small, but profitable business.

You surround yourself with talented and tenacious people with complementary skills and temperaments. Such a group of high-powered individuals is inevitably going to experience some clashes of ideas and egos, but you provide effective leadership and the team coalesces around a common goal, forming an enduring partnership of equals.

Together, you take risks, but they’re always risks you can survive losing because ultimately you’re determined to live to fight another day. Of course you make mistakes, but you keep your eyes wide open and course correct quickly enough to stay afloat and try a different tack.

And then one day, you realize you’ve established a truly sustainable business. After some additional risk-taking and mistake-making, you even figure out how to scale it. Your company’s fifteenth anniversary arrives, and you realize you’re a “medium-sized enterprise.” Nobody’s going to make a movie about you. Harvard Business Review isn’t going to do a case study. But you’re a freakin’ medium-sized enterprise. And every bit as proud as the zillionaires.

 

Stu Stern

A self-professed geek with more than 30 years of programming experience, Stu co-founded Gorilla Logic in 2002 to deliver world-class consulting services around internet and enterprise applications. Prior to co-founding Gorilla Logic, Stu was founding VP of the Sun Java Center, Sun Microsystems’ global Java professional services organization. Among other accomplishments, the Sun Java Center created the highly influential Core J2EE Patterns catalog and book. Before that, Stu was VP of Equity Trading Systems Technology at PaineWebber (now UBS), and was a member of the original Financial Information eXchange (FIX) protocol steering committee. Stu holds a BA in Mathematics from the University of Rochester.

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