See from the inside how Rainmaking thinks about values. A non-edited copy of an email used in connection with our recent Energy Day in Berlin for the entire Rainmaking team.
Over the last couple of years we have had many discussions about Rainmaking’s culture and values, about what we shall focus on, and whether we have the right model, or whether there are other models out there, which would make us more successful. All these discussions have been fruitful; and it is now time to summarize the purpose, culture and values of Rainmaking.
The purpose of Rainmaking
When we founded Rainmaking the main purpose was to create a vehicle that could help us optimize our happiness.
We spent countless hours together to define what happiness means to each of us. We found out that we did not have one uniform view on that, but the common themes included having a good health, deep relationships with family and friends, time for sport and fun, sex, enough money to be financially independent, freedom, being part of creating something big and innovative, only working with people we genuinely like, being our own boss, having success, doing something good in the world, being acknowledged and many other things. The balance between the themes is not the same for all of us, however, all of us want a pool of things – not only one thing. And it is also clear that even though becoming rich is important to all of us, then it is not the number one objective for any of us, and there is a clear limit to how much we will compromise on our other priorities to get rich.
Some of us have been very focused on getting rich earlier in our lives, however, as we have grown older and learned what really matters for us, then we have realized that things like good health, being able to pursue our passion, and being with people (privately and in business life) we genuinely like is what really makes us happy on a day to day basis.
We are not judging others who for example want a more narrow focus on getting rich. And we are not saying our way is right for everyone. However, we have decided that this is what we want and how we want to balance things. And we do not want to compromise that.
It does not mean that all of us need to have exactly the same balance between different things in life, however, it does mean that we respect each other and we respect that each of us will have different preferences, which will make that person happy. There is of course a limit to what can be accepted. We cannot have partners who are not passionate about what we do or partners who do not contribute with a dedicated and high quality performance in Rainmaking. It just means that as long as everyone is really contributing to Rainmaking and our startups then we also allow for individual preferences and ways of balancing life.
If the purpose of Rainmaking solely was to create maximum profit, then we should maybe (and maybe not) do certain things differently. It is therefore important to remember that Rainmaking was founded with a bigger purpose. To be a vehicle which could help the partners optimize their personal overall happiness. Creating wealth is an important part of our happiness. But only one part.
We are ambitious and create huge value
When some people hear about the Rainmaking Way, then they could misunderstand it as if we are not ambitious and don’t care about creating value and generating profit. That is far from the truth.
We are very ambitious people and have set a goal to see if we can be even more successful than the “traditional” entrepreneurs who do not have a balanced life and who make all the sacrifices. We want to prove that we can create more successful startups and earn more money AND at the same time have a balanced life where we prioritize the other parameters that are important to each of us. Whether we succeed or not is difficult to know. But this is an exciting adventure. And a very ambitious one.
Our actions and results also show that we are serious and ambitious. And that we create value. At the same time as we are prioritizing other things.
If we look at what we have created so far then there is a good argument to say that it is a bit coincidental that we have not had the big exit yet. CityLasik could have been a EUR 10m exit if the German market had not collapsed in connection with the financial crisis. Gruppekøb could have been huge if we had stayed in and pivoted even more to services and introduced coupons. We would have seen that early and could easily have been the Scandinavian leader of the “Groupon model” with an exit opportunity above EUR 50m. And today Greenwire and more of our start ups have the potential to become such an exit.
We are doing really cool stuff and there is little doubt that we one day will make the big exit, and then everyone (including ourselves) will have proved that we can do both. We can earn shit loads of money. And live the Rainmaking Way.
One may ask if we can be as rich as other’ who focus 100% on creating wealth only and who are willing to sacrifice a lot of other things in their life to get there. The answer is that we do not know. And honestly, we do not really care. We believe that we can be extremely successful with our model. And earn more money than we can ever spend in a lifetime. And that is good enough for us.
The Rainmaking Way
On some occasions we have had internal conversations where the Rainmaking culture or values have been more or less simplified being about doing charity and not working long hours. But that is way too simple. The best way to explain our culture and what Rainmaking is about is to ask what external people experience when they meet us.
The fact is there are tons of cool, intelligent and successful people out there, but we are often told that Rainmaking is something unique and special. People are genuinely intrigued by our thinking, our model, our behavior and our results. These are some of the things people often tell they associate and appreciate about Rainmaking:
- We are genuinely nice people who are humble and approachable
- We have a positive attitude towards life and entrepreneurship (we tell a bright story, whereas most tell a dark story)
- We have big ambitions and create a lot of things
- We are working in a very professional way and deliver high quality
- We are doing sympathetic things, e.g. startupbootcamp for entrepreneurs and charity via Periamma
- We offer a unique working environment with focus on happiness, freedom and respect
- We stay friends and care for each other
- We do not have any politics
- We can take a nap during a day or working home or go and play golf in the middle of the day. And tell about it. And feel good about it
- We are different and not like the others
Maximum 10 partners in foreseeable future
We have an ambition to create Rainmaking as an immense success creating some of the coolest startups in the world. We want to be present in Copenhagen, London and Berlin. And over time in maybe more cities. For several years we have thought that we wanted to be 30 partners or so over time, but we have taken a decision to not be more than 10 partners in the foreseeable future. The reason is that we first and foremost want to sustain and nurture the very special Rainmaking culture and continue to be able to be true friends with all partners. We have realized that this will be close to impossible with 30 partners and the entire dynamic of the company will change if we became 30 partners. We would probably need a managing partner, maybe even tiered partnership and rigid decision processes.
And we cannot imagine that the Energy Days for example would be as fun and as constructive as today. Already now it can be difficult to have the same deep conversation as one can on a walk or in small group. We therefore want to limit the partnership to 10 people.
And that has consequences.
First of all, it sets even higher demands to whom we accept as partners. And alignment about purpose, values and culture become even more important. If we were growing a big partner group it did not matter as much whether some partners had somewhat different views of certain things. However, when we are a small group of ten people we need to be pretty aligned. There shall be room for individual preferences. Room for discussions. And room for disagreements. But we need to fundamentally share the same vision. Work towards the same purpose and have the same core values. That is crucial and compromises will not be accepted on that.
Secondly, we need to start developing a different way to create leverage. Until now we have mainly been able to grow through more partners, however, we now need to create leverage through a layer below us who can help each partner create more value faster and maybe across several startups at the same time – or get each start up to grow bigger and faster. This is one area we need to develop over the coming years.
Richard Branson is just one guy. The Samwers brothers are 3 guys. We can definitely still make a huge global start up factory with 10 partners. We “just” need to be much better at engaging co-founders in each start up, getting top talent to work for us, etc.
Rainmaking can perform 10 times better
While we don’t want to change purpose, value and culture, then we are more than happy to change anything else, which can help Rainmaking perform better. We have learned a lot over the first 5 years, however, we have only scratched the surface when it comes to optimizing performance. We are not yet anything like a smooth startup factory. There is so much we can do to bring superstars within specific areas into our businesses, to pick better projects, to leverage technology, to share best practice, to move faster, to ….. The list is endless. And that is great. It shows the potential.
We are excited to continue on this journey. The next 5 years will be at least as fun as the last 5 years have been. And no doubt the next 5 years will bring us to new levels of success. Thanks for taking part on this journey. We truly appreciate that, and it is a daily joy to be co-creating with such great persons and colleagues.