Life at the speed of hyper-growth is unlike any other experience. As the VP, Growth and Marketing at Breather, I've witnessed some amazing transformations in the past 18 months. From managing a team of two people when I joined, to building and overseeing a team of over 20 talented and passionate marketers, creatives and analysts, the experience has been phenomenal. I'm extremely proud of the milestones accomplished by our crew during my tenure on the executive team at Breather, including:
Securing a successful Series B round of financing of US$20M, led by Peter Thiel's Valar Ventures.
Demonstrating consistent and significant, month-over-month revenue growth.
Building the Breather family from 24 to over 112 employees.
Growing the Breather supply network to over 170 locations in 10 international cities.
Navigating the daily challenges of business at the pace of hyper-growth is an amazing education, particularly if you're doing so in an industry vertical that does not really exist yet. I can't list all the invaluable lessons that I'll take from my time at Breather, but I will jot down a few that are most salient:
1. It's always about people.
When considering the incredible experience of my time at Breather, there is one part of the job that tops the list: the people.
I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work for and alongside some of the smartest, most talented, creative, hard-working, funny, impressive people. From the visionary co-founders and leaders on the executive team, to the engineers, developers, product experts and data scientists, to the amazing designers and creative talents, the local marketers and sales teams and the real estate and operations teams, from dedicated and patient customer care reps, I have grown on a professional and personal level for having had the chance to work with such committed, intelligent and generous people.
I have a tremendous amount of confidence in the Breather team and their ability to continue to trail-blaze towards being the global leader in on-demand private space. I'll continue to cheer them on with each new location, city and country they launch in. Thanks to everyone at Breather for an awesome ride!
2. Get comfortable with knowing you just don't know.
The pace of change in business today means that what was true yesterday can be a fallacy today. Leave old assumptions at the door. Slaughter your sacred cows. Talk to your customers. Eat your own dogfood. Try to break your product. You'll quickly uncover the gaps in your understanding. Remain teachable and open to change.
3. Fight the most important fires, first.
LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman said it best when describing the challenges of building a business at the pace of hyper-growth. To throw yourself off of a cliff, and build the plane on the way down, requires absolute focus on solving the most important problems first and refusing to be distracted by anything else. This means making hard decisions, quickly. To grow a business by orders of magnitude, one must learn to operate with speed and accuracy to identify, evaluate, strategize, plan and execute, and then repeat. This often requires having the confidence to let smaller fires burn while focusing short-term on the most pressing issues of the day.
4. Sometimes a weakness is a strength.
When I first joined Breather, friends and family couldn't understand how this could be a profitable business. They pointed to a model that required the company to hold long-term leases. Wouldn't that be a tremendous liability? Initially, I thought the same thing, but I was wrong. In fact, Breather's network of leased locations is a highly valuable competitive advantage. Working with some of the most prestigious and established property owners in the world, Breather continues to solidify their position as the market leader in on-demand meeting rooms with each new lease and partnership they take on.
5. The most important things are often hard to say.
There is a culture of radical candor at Breather. The idea that everyone is made better through transparent, respectful discourse is a core value. By providing a safe place where conflict and trust co-exist to make room for the best ideas to win, the Breather leadership has done a great job in empowering their people to create incredible products and accomplish amazing things.
So... what's next?
In the short term, I'm going to take a little time off—play some golf, enjoy the summer, and contemplate my next adventure. I've always loved working with great brands on developing winning digital marketing strategies, so I’ll be dusting off the old consultant shingle. Let me know if there’s anything I can help you with.
I'll also be exploring entrepreneurial opportunities. There are so many exciting areas of innovation that represent amazing launchpads for growth, so I plan to stay connected to the startup community, too.