Building A Company Vs. Building A Business

Connecticut, construction

Photo: flickr / MattZwilling

Matt Blumberg, CEO of our portfolio company Return Path, wrote an interesting post last week about the differences between building a company and building a business.I’ve been an investor and board member of Return Path for over a decade and I’ve witnessed the company fail with its first product/business and then through a series of acquisitions build a very strong business and company. Matt and his team built the company first then the business, which is backwards, but it worked.

Matt is right that most of our portfolio companies build the product first, then the business, then the company. And building a company is often difficult for founders because they are so focused on the product. 

Roelof Botha, a leading VC with Sequoia, once gave me a great piece of advice in helping founders start to focus on company building. He said founders should think of their company as a product and build it and shape it with the same passion and care. I’ve taken that to heart and passed it on a few times. 

No matter how or when you do it, building a company is a required step to sustainability. Positive cash flow is not enough to keep the company independent and solvent. You need a culture, systems, and processes to keep everyone happy and functioning well. That is company building and Matt and his team are among the best I’ve seen at it.

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