Nikhil Hasija | Crain's Seattle

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Nikhil Hasija

Background:  

Based in Seattle, Azuqua is an integration platform that allows business users to build powerful automations and experiences for their organization. Azuqua has more than 50 employees and $16 million in funding.

The Mistake:

After we built the tech for our company, we happened upon a really large Fortune 50 global conglomerate that saw the value in it. We only had a few other customers at the time, so it was very exciting.

This company did a whole analysis of our tech, said they loved it, and then proceeded to give us a list of about 200 new things they wanted from our tech. It came with a giant check. So we had a choice to make: We could either continue going after the product/market fit, or take the money and deviate.

Saying “no” to a seven-figure deal is tough, so we took them up on their offer. As a result, we ended up having to do things that pleased them – things that had no application to the rest of the market we intended to tackle. We had been pulled away from what we originally set out to do because so many of our resources were being spent on meeting the needs of this one company.

Last year, we recognized that we had been pulled too far from our intended direction, and reverted back to our roots.

While we chose what felt like the 'easy way out,' that ended up not being the case at all.

The Lesson:

Capital is the fuel that drives companies. When you get access to that fuel, you better be sure it’s driving you in the intended direction.

If a large company is willing to write you a large check, and requires you to make very few changes to your product, that’s an immense validation of your product. Take them up on that opportunity. But if it requires you to make many changes and is pulling you into areas you hadn’t intended to go, it’s wiser to decline their offer.

I wish I had spent more time assessing that before taking on that big company as a client. While we chose what felt like the “easy way out,” that ended up not being the case at all; in fact, it made our journey harder because we had to make up for all the time we lost.

Of course, it’s hard to leave money on the table, but it’s important that you consider whether the money will help you achieve what you set out to do in the first place.

Azuqua is on Twitter at: @azuqua

Photo courtesy of Azuqua