Investing in Innovation

InnovationAs a RunSignUp customer, you are investing in innovation. If you have followed this blog for any amount of time, you will see how we keep creating stuff at a rapid pace. This is one of the key ways (along with customer service) we use the processing fees that are paid when people register for your races.

This thought came to me from an article in the NYTimes – Why a Harvard Professor Has Mixed Feelings When Students Take Jobs in Finance. The focus is around this topic:

Every profession produces both private returns — the fruits of labor that a person enjoys — and social returns — those that society enjoys.

As individuals at RunSignUp, I can tell you we get a kick out of trying to create technology that makes a “social return” – whether it is better registration on mobile phones, video results or GPS tracking – they are things that the running community enjoys. To be clear, we are definitely not saving the world (and we certainly want and need to make money), but we and our customers and their participants are having a bit more fun because of the work we do. And we strive for that good, healthy balance of a Three Legged Stool that I wrote about on my personal blog.

The article also made me think of things from a company perspective. I am lucky to have been a part of a number of startups that have created good things.  I like that side of business.

One of the things I have noticed is that as companies grow and take financing, they have a challenge to balance the interests of the owners with the original concept of the founder. Older companies start to worry more about transferring money from other people to themselves to satisfy investors. To take another quote from the article:

Countries suffer when talented people become what we economists call “rent seekers.” Instead of creating wealth, rent seekers simply transfer it — from others to themselves.

This kind of rent-seeking behavior is widespread in other parts of finance. Banks sometimes make money by using hidden fees rather than adding true value.

This is one of the reasons we have not taken outside capital. Not taking capital means we need to stay relatively small – so we will just focus on the endurance market. It also means we need to take our time in growing. It also means we need to manage the business well to ensure we have happy customers that keep us in the business of creating good stuff.

Which leads us back to the beginning – thanks for being our customers and giving us the opportunity to create new innovations that (hopefully) the running society enjoys!

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