Does Your Story Have a Villain?

Are you driven to prove someone wrong? Maybe an old boss? Or a prospective investor who belittled your idea?

Being motivated to prove someone wrong can be a powerful force that drives you to do incredible things. For example, look at the story of California-based entrepreneur Jonathan Shroyer. From 1999 to 2019, Shroyer worked for organizations like Microsoft, Monster Worldwide, Autodesk, and start-ups like Postmates, Kabam, and Forte Labs in their customer service department. Shroyer spent years trying to convince his colleagues that a call center didn’t have to be an expense and could be a profit center. His suggestions were largely ignored, so Shroyer decided to set out on his own to prove his former employers wrong. 


Shroyer started Officium Labs in 2019 alongside his partner, Scott McCabe, intending to turn contact centers into profit centers. Shroyer believed that the way organizations communicated with their customers was outdated and instead created a framework called “The Service Stack Maturity Model.” This model helped lower companies’ churn rates and increased the lifetime value of their current customers.


Shroyer quickly saw success and, within two years, had generated $10 million in revenue with a vision to grow to $100 million. In a recent episode of Built to Sell Radio, Shroyer admitted to host John Warrillow that his goal to reach $100 million was motivated to prove his former bosses wrong. Keen to hit this revenue target sooner rather than later, he knew he needed outside investment to reach his goal. 


Ultimately, Shroyer decided the best way to reach his goal was to partner with a larger company and sell his shares to Arise for around 20x EBITDA. 


Creating a Villain Your Whole Team Can Hate


Having a personal axe to grind can fuel your motivation, but to build a business that isn’t dependent on you, you will have to manufacture a villain your company can all get behind hating. 


For example, most of us have had a frustrating experience riding in a cab, which is why the taxi industry makes a great villain all Uber employees can be motivated to overcome. Older readers will remember Blockbuster Video charging late fees, so they made the perfect villain for Netflix’s earliest employees. Microsoft enjoyed a monopoly, making it the ideal villain for Apple employees, who were encouraged to “think different.”  


Proving someone wrong can be a powerful motivation to start a company, but cultivating a villain all your employees can hate is essential if you want it to grow and thrive without you.

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