Ideas big and small seek seek their human to yank them from the ether into electricity. I’ve personally plucked “Secondhand” (or perhaps it plucked me).
Today, Object Limited is like a warm worm in a cocoon. At the moment, it’s sticky, kind of weird looking, and doesn’t do very much. However, I know from experience that something wild and beautiful is emerging (very) soon, and it’s going to have incredibly vibrant colors, and it’s going to change the world with a single flap of its wings.
My last business, Homepolish, started as a ready-made room plan PDF e-book startup. We bootstrapped into a wildly different service business and grew it from the $400 par value of our stock into a $20mm Series A three years later. The core essence, however, stayed the same from day 1. I co-founded the business because of a resolute feeling of “I can’t believe I live in a design magazine” that I wanted to share with as many people as possible.
In Object Limited’s case, my feeling stems from a fascination with the objects worth keeping. The mystery of why some things stick around for hundreds of years and how we can better understand and empower that mystery with technology so as to inspire more people to choose Secondhand first. If I’m right, we can also better the planet along the way by reducing the amount of newly manufactured crap.
At this stage, I’m less interested in the exact methodology of how this comes to fruition and simply more concerned with getting the right messages from the universe and backing them with metrics-based experiments. My team and I are running towards the prize full-steam even if the approach is shifting like colors on a carnival racehorse’s back (… and of course, all the while, making sure we don’t run out of cash - I was a tech M&A investment banker for 5 years after all).
What’s behind the finish line at the end is too big and too interesting for me to stop or look towards other horses for more than a glance.
It’s this stage, with horses ahead of me moving in jerky mechanical steps, where the questions of why not back X or how about that company Y or how will you deal with Z are real and tempting for investors. All I can say is that those companies have different people shooting up their tubes with water guns and different cracks of the whip from their jockey on top.
X and Y methodologies may work better, they may not, but we’re dealing with Trillions, not Billions in this Secondhand market, and there’s more than enough over-sized plush bears for all of us.
All problems are surmountable.
There is a certain type of investor - the type who gets all the credit and has an impact (and gets filthy rich) - that makes a bet on the horse in the back and starts shooting their water gun right when the gun goes off.
There is always a brief, beautiful, carnival bark to “Step Right Up” if you’re listening carefully.
I have to give a lot of credit to Object Limited’s investors who gave their cash and grabbed their gun right from the starting line. I truly appreciate and admire their support.
I know that if fortune smiles and we do pull ahead, the crowd’s tune will change. Suddenly investors will be pushing and screaming to shoot water at our Object Limited horse. It will magically look like we were the obvious winner from the start. Let me be clear, we weren’t.
That’s simply how the game works. I’ve seen it with my own investments in The Wing, Parsley Health, Henry The Dentist, and about a dozen others that all followed the same pattern.
Many of these companies, when I first met them, were little more than impassioned conversation and a gleam in the founder’s eye.
Ultimately I believe in only investing where I give a shit about the problem and the person (and in Object Limited’s case, myself), and I’ve passed on many amazing businesses that didn’t fit the bill.
Finding that gleam and backing it for the service of a society-healing vision is one of the hardest occupations in the world. Kudos to you, intrepid investor. Kudos to you, whip whipping founder, for stepping up to ride.