The Back Story
After 10 years of working in the gaming industry, I had moved on to a position at a tech company in Albuquerque. The move was a paradigm shift from anything I had experienced in my career. I went from an operational and support outlook in a gaming environment to a services-oriented outlook on the solution side.
At the casino, we supported and ensured that systems were available. We worked with departments to implement innovative technology, but in many ways, it was the vendor that did most of the implementation. We were there to be the liaison between the vendor and our internal users.
Working at this new software company was akin to taking the red pill from the matrix. All the “Don’t touch it you will break it.” or “Are you sure you want to be responsible for that?” went out the window.
This was a new world; it was full of possibilities. I got to look under the hood. As it turns out, everything that we feared was not scary at all. In fact, all the technical capacity in the world was at our fingertips the entire time.
It was this experience that helped paved the way for what would eventually become Volante.
Right Time, Right Place
“Looking back, it is easy to connect the dots.” (I know we have all heard the speech a 1000 times) As I look back, those words echo in every corner of my head. I had earned my industry knowledge, I was exposed to the metal behind technology solutions, and most importantly, I had met Dustin.
I knew he was the person. This was not a decision to be made lightly. This shit is not for the faint of heart. We were established professionals, we had careers, money, and families. Asking anyone to trust in this journey was not a decision to be made in haste. There would be no sleep, there would be risk with a slim chance at reward. In many ways it would be a step back for both of us.
Most importantly, our futures were going to be intertwined. Having a business partner is as close of a relationship as you can have outside of getting married.
I remember telling him that I had an idea I wanted to run by him. It was time.
Think n Drink
He and I sat at a table in Fox n Hound. We were drinking $2.00 beers and talking about all the things we would do differently if we were driving the ship. It had to be a SAAS solution. It was going to be a niche offering for all those “boring” problems the big dogs did not care about. Venture capital – nope. No one was going to dictate when or how we invested our money.
I wrote feverishly on every cocktail napkin in front of me. At the end of a 2-hour conversation, there were three words on the final napkin – FAST, INTUITIVE, SCALABLE. We kept those Tuesday Think n Drink sessions for the first 3 years of our existence. I still have those napkins somewhere.
What does Volante even mean?
I had just gotten home from the bar. I remember sitting in my office racking my brain. I had already called anyone and everyone whose opinion meant something to me. This was a pivotal moment. It was the foundation of our brand. There were so many more questions than answers.
Do we go in a web 2.0 direction and end up with a nonsensical mishmash name like dazzle or weebo with bright colors and a quirky logo? There was also the plethora of people who told me our name had to spell out exactly what we do (someone tell Amazon, Twitter, and Apple. I do not think they got the memo).
I spent an entire night chicken scratching on every piece of paper at my disposal. Nothing was working. I decided to step back – the name did not dictate our method. Our method should dictate the name. Now we were getting somewhere.
The Fly Wheel vs the Doom Loop
My favorite business book is Good to Great by Jim Collins.
The book addresses a single question: can a good company become a great company, and if so, how? Based on a five-year research project comparing companies that made the leap to those that did not, Good to Great shows that greatness is not primarily a function of circumstance but largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline.
The chapter that fascinates me the most is The Fly Wheel vs Doom Loop. I have been a part of both large and boutique companies and have seen people at all levels consistently believe that the next thing they do is going to change everything. The process is chaotic.
Unfortunately, many leaders are under the impression that massive success can happen overnight—by dint of a splashy initiative, big-ticket acquisition, or innovative technology. These moves all too often fail and lead to further drastic measures—restructurings, layoffs—which lead to further declines and on and on. This painful cycle is the “doom loop,”
On the other side of the spectrum, we have The Flywheel.
“Pushing with significant effort, you get the flywheel to inch forward, moving imperceptibly at first. You keep pushing and, after two or three hours of persistent effort, you get the flywheel to complete one entire turn. You keep pushing, and the flywheel begins to move a bit faster, and with continued great effort, you move it around a second rotation. You keep pushing in a consistent direction. Three turns … four … five … six … the flywheel builds up speed … seven … eight … you keep pushing … nine … ten … it builds momentum … eleven … twelve … moving faster with each turn … twenty … thirty … fifty … a hundred.
Then, at some point—breakthrough! The momentum of the thing kicks in in your favor, hurling the flywheel forward, turn after turn … whoosh! … its own heavy weight working for you. You are pushing no harder than during the first rotation, but the flywheel goes faster and faster. Each turn of the flywheel builds upon work done earlier, compounding your investment of effort. A thousand times faster, then ten thousand, then a hundred thousand. The huge heavy disk flies forward, with almost unstoppable momentum.”
If you have been in one of our demos, you have inevitably heard the following statement in one form or another.
“Concentrated effort in one direction for a sustained period of time.” For us, that charge is SlotTrak. That is what we do every day, all day.
This is the foundation of our company. This method is at the center of every initiative and every decision that we make.
VOLANTE is the Spanish word for FLYWHEEL.