Friday, 29 April 2016

You're just a kid engineer. You need to know your place

"I was 23 and working for a small company that was running out of cash. The company had hired me as a software engineer to help build a new product they were convinced would be a huge hit. I didn't realize until I joined that the financial situation was so dire, but I was told that if we could build the product quickly, there were scores of big customers lined up to buy the product and save the company.

I was energized and loved the challenge. I poured myself into my work. But as we built the product I couldn't shake the sinking feeling that I didn't see a real use for it. It was a solution for a problem that didn't feel compelling to me. I voiced this concern a number of times and at one point even pushed for a different strategy.

The executive team was dismissive and even indignant. "Who the hell do you think you are?! You're just a kid engineer. You need to know your place," one red-faced executive told me. So I backed off, against my better judgment.

We completed the product and I joined the CEO for the big customer road show. It was a total disaster. Meeting after painful meeting confirmed my intuition: there was no reaction, no feedback, not even a hint of interest from a single customer.

On the flight home I realized that I needed to start my own company, that my instincts for products and customers were really good. I needed to free myself from the burden of convincing someone else to let me run with my ideas.

Two weeks later I met my co-founder and we started Bullhorn together." 

Art Papas, founder and CEO, Bullhorn


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