It’s every entrepreneur’s dream. The vision you had becomes a reality, and then, after years of struggling – and succeeding – a Big Company wants to buy your baby. That’s what I woke up to the other day, when an article in All Things D, or Digital, of The Wall Street Journal announced that Sephora had acquired Scentsa, my baby. WWD, too, among others.
The ATD/WSJ headline read: “In-Store Tech Is So Hot Right Now: Sephora Acquires Fragrance Software Startup Scentsa.” Thank you, Jason Del Rey, and Julie Naughton at WWD for sharing the news. I decided on another cup of coffee right then and there. And thank you, Sephora the largest beauty retailer on the planet, owned by LVMH.
As I sipped my nectar from the gods, I began to think about the company I started many years ago, the user experience I envisioned, the name I dreamed up – will anyone really remember that Scentsa came about because it rhymed with Mensa – as in, a smart way to shop? Probably not. No matter. Anyway, I discovered the nascent, fledgling idea that was, at one time, an uphill battle, has grown up to be a retail darling.
My inbox was chock full of email congratulations from friends, notes from business contacts, offers from Beverly Hills investment bankers and financial planners. Twitter was atweet; LinkedIn linkages were pouring in…phone ringing, texts gone wild…you know, general bedlam.
So, I woke up unemployed, and now I had something To Do.
Business IS Personal
The saying that really rankles me is: ‘It’s just business.’ No, it isn’t. Business is personal. I rewound the memory tape, remembering the excitement of beginning a new venture. ‘Believe in excellence,’ we taught our team, mentoring people, many of them fresh from school, to ‘love our clients, don’t cut corners, take pride in a job well done, listen to the customer,’ and so on. When you’re teaching people, it’s personal.
During our tenure it was all about innovation and serving the client, recognizing that they’re people, too, with responsibilities on and off the job. “How can we help you?’ That was our mantra. And my personal favorite: ‘Let us show you something new we dreamed up just for you.’
We adored our clients, enjoyed working with them. We took pride in serving them well. How many times did I work all night? Our staff seldom realized that. Nor did they know about the strategic and financial demands placed on us by investors we had to take on during the 2007-8 downturn to save jobs. Maybe we should have shared more of that. But overall, we did a good job.
The End Result
If you’re a founder, when this day comes, you might sell for a profit. Perhaps you’ll retire. Maybe you sell to get out from under a mountain of debt. Or the venture capital firm walks away with the profit and you’re left swinging on unemployment. Me? Sorry, I ain’t telling. Can’t, due to all the legal eagle stuff. Whatever the result – and believe me, entrepreneurs have a galaxy of stories to share – one fact remains:
But I’m sure not. I fielded some fascinating calls today. Met a couple of interesting entrepreneurs. A VC who vows to really, really love me. More mobile ideas, marketing innovations, story ideas. Who knows?
Tomorrow’s Another Day
And so, I’m interested. Re-energized. And my superstar literary agent is selling my new book like mad (Jenny Bent just made another deal: in Turkey!). New ideas are bubbling to the top. You, see, it’s nearly impossible for entrepreneurs to hit the Off Button. And that’s a good thing–our visions create jobs, improve lives, introduce new products (iPhone, anyone?). Fun stuff, really.
Thanks for listening. If you’ve ever been a founder, I’d love to hear your story.