In early 2009 we were one of sixteen companies accepted into the prestigious seed funding program called Y-Combinator. If you don't know YC, read this article in Wired or visit their web site. On the first day of the program, we presented Paul Graham with ideas on how to spend the next 3 months growing (saving, really) our company. He, having seen hundreds of companies fail prior to us, dismissed our 'brilliant tech strategies' citing the wrong approach. Our hearts sinking, we looked at one another with puzzled faces, (gulp) "What were we going to do?". He broke the silence with a simple question, one that forever changed the course of the business: "Where is your market?"
At the time we didn't have much of a market. The product/market fit wasn't yet there, and it showed. Weekly revenue was less than what it costs to buy an iPad. There was one city that showed promise. The 'city that never sleeps' had signs of people sleeping. Paul, in his iconic voice, said, "So your customers are in New York, and you're here in Mountain View [California]." "Yeah..", we said. He restates, "Your customers are in New York, and you're in Mountain View". After an awkward silence, his voice rises, "What are you still doing here! Go to New York City!".
For the first time in our internet lives we were given permission to do things that don't scale. His message was to forget convention of solving problems from behind a computer screen. In the early days, it's not programming that will make or break you. It's the people, the customers. Leave the computer, and go to the people. We did, and never looked back.