Jason Brown | Crain's Seattle

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

Jason Brown

Background:  

Vitamin Packs is a new Seattle-based nutrition startup that uses science, data and technology to curate customized daily vitamin packs based on a consumer’s diet and lifestyle. Vitamin Packs CEO Jason Brown is a nutrition industry veteran who has created nine companies in the textile/fashion, food and nutrition industries, seven of which have sold.

The Mistake:

Fixing something that wasn’t broken.

I’m the CEO of a team of men and women that have been working together at different companies for years. While building Vitamin Packs, we met with consultants early on who seemed to be smart and millennial-driven. They had a lot of fantastic ideas about using new, innovative freeware that we could integrate with our ColdFusion (programming language) systems, which are old legacy systems upon which we built the foundation of our company.

We ended up writing these people very large checks, spent a significant amount of time with them, and were asked to build these new, groovy freeware platforms because they were the latest and greatest e-commerce site development tools. While it was against my tech team’s will, they allowed me to push them into it.

The whole thing was very cumbersome; we found ourselves putting patches on tires as we drove. Every time we wanted to make a change, even a very small one, we would have to do a comprehensive running of the software.

After about three months, we realized we were spending an unnecessary amount of time and energy trying to work with this new, cool technology.

Why fix what isn’t broken?

The Lesson:

Don’t always jump for the new, shiny penny. Why fix what isn’t broken?

Just because a consensus of people outside of your company think something is better, faster or more interesting than what you have, that doesn’t always make it true. And negating your own trained professionals’ opinion on it isn’t a great move, either. I hire people that are smarter than me for a reason. While I, of course, manage their expectations, I also let them do their job.

ColdFusion, while not the newest technology, worked just fine. Anything we could do with the freeware, we could do with ColdFusion – and better yet, we knew it inside and out.

So we decided to return to our original technology, and were much happier. Had I known that earlier, I would’ve never pushed us to change in the first place. The whole ordeal cost us a significant amount of time and money.

Follow Vitamin Packs on Twitter at @VitaminPacks

Photo courtesy of Vitamin Packs

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