5 Things in 5 Years

May 13, 2015 Stuart Frankel

We recently celebrated the fifth anniversary of the founding of Narrative Science. What a great milestone. For a mature company in a mature market, five years is nothing. For us, it’s everything.

These tech company anniversary blog posts walk a well-worn path. This is where I’m supposed to give you a long list of all of the great accomplishments that we have had since our founding (there have been many), talk about how we’re changing the world (we are) and talk about our prospects for the future (they’re really good). But, I’m not going to do that. Instead, I thought I would just share 5 things that I have learned over the last 5 years that really matter.

  1. Mission is mandatory. Our mission is to enhance human productivity and to make people smarter. It took us a while (read: years) to get the wording right, but the sentiment was there from day one. Mission matters more than it ever has.
  2. Build a team around your values. We have an extraordinarily talented team made up of an incredibly diverse group of individuals. These individuals are thoughtful, compassionate and absurdly collaborative. Talent never matters more than character.
  3. Early customers should be treated like the heroes that they are. As we’ve grown, we have been fortunate to work with a who’s who of blue chip companies. The vast majority of our customers are global organizations, many of which are in government and the financial services industry and include companies like USAA, MasterCard and American Century. We love these customers, but no more than our early customers.  Companies like The Big Ten Network, Hanley Wood and GameChanger (all customers that began working with us in 2010 and 2011) who all took a chance on us before anybody. Before we even had a business. These companies all continue to share our vision and we bend over backwards to keep them happy. Early customers really, really matter.
  4. Work with investors who share your vision for your future (and your timeline for getting there). We couldn’t have a better group of investors (in order of appearance): Northwestern University, SV Angel, Battery Ventures, In-Q-Tel, Jump Capital, Saphire Ventures and USAA.  The list speaks for itself. Investors matter.
  5. Build a real business. We’ve never been about adding users or getting trials or getting traffic. We’re about building great technology AND building a great business. We’ve generated revenue since our very first day and have always been acutely focused on building a big, sustainable, real business. Business models matter.

So that’s it.  Five things that really matter.

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