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|On the Scene|
|Thursday, February 04, 2010|
BY KEVIN MANAHAN
Growing big and growing fast is no easy feat for a startup. Particularly in this economy, just getting investment is difficult. But some entrepreneurs do manage to quickly grow their businesses, or even enter established companies and take them to new heights — but not without some bumps along the way. Still, their success stories are valuable resources for anyone thinking of dipping into the entrepreneurship pool.
While Khanna and his brother opted not to take a salary in the early years while the money flow was still dry, their co-founder chose to pocket his earnings from the get-go. Over the years it became clearer that Khanna’s friend wasn’t as committed to Saber’s long-term success as the other two were and was eventually let go, a difficult process because of his relationship with his co-founders and the lack of role definitions early on.
Khanna learned from the mistake, however, and eventually made it a point for each potential employee — regardless of their level of work — to be brought on as a 90-day hire and undergo a rigorous screening process to make sure they were strong cultural fits with the company's mission. Originally a consulting company, Saber grew into a $24 million government solutions company by 2005 and was sold two years later by Khanna.
The solution? Focusing on a unique service offered by SnapNames that didn’t exist anywhere else at the time: a technology for domain acquisition that allows buyers to bid for expired domain names. In addition, Bhagwan brought in operation systems that he had picked up from Intel and implemented them among the staff to help re-establish expectations and responsibilities. The result was a significantly more productive staff, without having to change the headcount.
But a word of caution from Compton when seeking investment from friends or family, a common startup source: Make sure they understand the possibility that they could lose their money, and that they’re not putting everything they have on the line. If not, you might want to skip Thanksgiving dinner if your venture doesn’t go according to plan.
Kevin Manahan is the online editor of Oregon Business.
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