Startup Talk: When your word is not your bond

I found something out about a new startup today through a friend, and what he told me sickens me to the gut. I had been following this startup for over a year now, seeing them grow from working from home to having their own office and team, so this hits very close to home.

Back before they launched, they worked very hard to raise hype, get the word out, get potential customers, and all that. They promised everything under the roof, promised to be the support for other startups, promised that certain features will be available to everyone, all that stuff. People got excited, and we waited for them to launch.

Months passed, and I heard they launched, so I took another look at them. By chance, I found one of their customers and asked them how was the product and experience with the startup.

Here’s what he told me:

  1. They changed their tune once they got big corporate customers and weren’t desperate for sales anymore
  2. Lower tier customers had features taken away, and had to deal with it or upgrade to a higher tier. It’s like they didn’t matter anymore – big branded corporate customers had the highlight now.
  3. Side services that were promised to be free, were now charged by-the-minute, even if nobody else was using them (which cost the startup nothing, by the way). And it was bloody expensive.


You can imagine my utter disappointment with the team, particularly with the CEO whom I know was driving these decisions. I thought that, at the very least, they held to core startup principles i.e. speak the truth, and treat customers first, instead of putting their profits first.

I guess even that was too much to expect.

If you think you need to lie to succeed, watch Gary Vaynerchuk a bit more often. Build your legacy on good.

Q: What are the most important lessons your father taught you about building a business?

[0:46] Gary: That’s very easy. My dad taught me word is bond.




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I run, a managed hosting service in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

This is a place for me to pen my thoughts.

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