It’s a strange experience, this entrepreneurship thing. It’s life, amplified.
There are two distinct camps of entrepreneurs I’ve encountered since starting High Road – one savory, one unsavory.
There are the “deal people.” They think in waves of valuation – a modern-day synonym for extraction. Sadly, they call themselves “deal guys.”
What’s in it for me?
How much can I squeeze out of this thing before flipping onto the next thing?
The dismal science says this is okay so long as a greater economic good emerges for society, but so often, no such broad-stroke good happens. See: Talenti and the City of Marietta. Someone takes most and heads to the beach. Or worse, fancies themselves a newly minted finance professional. Luck does weird things to the ego.
Here’s the formula: Invest a ton in a disruptive package – one that seduces the consumer. Target market like crazy. Millennial Ladies? Force distribution like mad. Spend whatever it takes. MegaCorp gets seduced or irritated. Mwah ha ha! Sell at crazy valuation. Pick new category. Repeat.
These people suck.
Then, there are the rebels.
Joe Strummer said,” Without people, you’re nothing.”
Here is High Road, on the cusp on our own major label success, all the “help” in the world flowing to our headquarters. It’s finally easy to get the meeting. Press. Big sales. All that.
But we’ll keep going if and only if the deal guys buy into two High Road truths:
1. That this brand thing is a bunch of crap. That the idea of brand was conjured up by soulless corporate monoliths to force soul into a vacuum where no soul existed.
2. That we’re a bunch of cooks and artists and craftspeople looking to attract more cooks and artists and craftspeople, because the world is a better place when cooks and artists and craftspeople tint and quilt and weave and wave the fabric of our society.
High Road is a really hard place to work. We’re figuring ourselves out daily, and are quickly developing an army of well-worn cooks and artists and craftspeople.
Living wages matter.
We’re older now. We’re taking punk rock from the club to the board room.