Why the “Why?” matters.

When I teach aspiring entrepreneurs at Stanford, I always tell them that any good startup pitch includes a compelling story of why you are exactly the right entrepreneur for this venture. Sometimes it might be a personal connection (“My brother was born without eyesight and so I’m passionate about technology for the blind”); sometimes it might be a personal anecdote (“I realized when visiting a small village in Africa how important it is to better connect the world”).

Simon Simek, in his TEDx video, talks about how great leaders from history always nail the “why?” before moving to the “how?” and the “what?”. Once you’ve clearly articulated the“why?”, then the rest is just tactical detail.

In his talk, Simek points about that most people can explain what they do…

…but very, very few people or organizations know why they do what they do. And by “why” I don’t mean “to make a profit.” By “why,” I mean: What’s your purpose? What’s your cause? What’s your belief? Why does your organization exist? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? And why should anyone care?

When Sumit and I founded Tivix we had a very clear “why?” in our heads — we passionately believed that we were uniquely capable of applying technology to change the world for good. We wanted to build software that matters. We struggled through a couple business model variations (the “how?”) before we found one that stuck. But the “why” has never changed.

As we’ve grown the team, that raison d’être has evolved into a full manifesto we’ve developed together as a team.

It’s what gets us out of bed in the morning. It’s the “why” that bonds us as a team. The rest is easy.