How do you paint a white rabbit?
This post was written for the Fleck.com blog where I posted it on April 16, 2006. I’m posting it here so it is more easily accesible. The original post can still be found here, including some comments and pingbacks.
On Sunday I was visiting my parents house to celebrate Easter Day. As we drove there we noticed a perfect white rabbit sitting by the side of the road. I stopped to show it to our children and told them it must have been the Easter bunny. My parents hid painted real eggs and chocolate ones in the garden, which the kids had to find, and then had lunch. After lunch I took a nap in my sisters room. As I woke up I looked around the room and noticed a drawing of a white rabbit. I stared at it for a while and noticed that that painting was actually a very good metaphor to starting a company.
When you start a company you have to know the answer to the question:
‘How do you paint a white rabbit’
In art academy (which I attended) you are taught to think different and one way to practice that is to think in negative shapes. You can paint a white rabbit, or an invisible form, or a bright light by outlining the outside of the form you wish to make visible. In the case of the white rabbit painting in my sisters room there is a background and a shadow which make the white rabbits stand out from the paper. In art academy they call that ‘inversion’ or ‘a negative’.
In Flecks case the white rabbit is our product. As you start to establish the company you build the background. We started with a patent, a blog and logo, then a website and a little funding. Then we hired developers and worked up a demo. You could say that we started working on all the stuff around the actual product and the more stuff you but in the background the clearer the white rabbit/our vision becomes.
This is a scary procedure. All the time you are building around, talking about and building upon something that simply isn’t there yet. You are constantly thinking “this is all background stuff, I want to see the actual product!’. But to get there you have to go through all that other stuff first.
It is strange to talk with investors about your dreams and vision. What you are actually trying to do is show them the white rabbit. The more stuff you show (Excel sheets, patents, demos and plans) the more clearer the white rabbit becomes.
Then one day, you wake up, and are suddenly staring at a very real and white rabbit and everybody can see it…