David Long has known for some time that if you want something done right, you better do it yourself. Founder and CEO of SageTea Software Inc., David had to reinvent programming back in 2007 when no one believed in his project.
At the time, David was toying with the idea of creating a computer language that made it possible to program software directly in English. He wasn’t the first one to think about it, but he was the first to succeed where so many had failed, thanks to his unique approach and determination. David built on the principle that any logic problem can be solved with a sufficiently high level of abstraction. This helped him establish the seven base elements of his SAGETEA model: States, Activities, Groups, Elements, Transitions, Events and Actions. David then used this model to create Text-to-Software®, a software development platform that uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) to create apps.
After solving the programming issue, David faced another challenge when it came time to predict his business’ future revenue in order to attract investors.
New challenge, same solution
David called upon multiple finance managers to help estimate his income, but the task proved more complex than anticipated, since SageTea Software is a private business and has less than $3M in revenues. Faced with a lack of conclusive results, David rolled up his sleeves and set out to do his evaluation by himself.
First, he sought the advice of his accountant and of financial advisors to get more information on the whole evaluation process. One of the proposed techniques – the discounted cash flow, or DCF, method – caught his attention. Thanks to his math knowledge and with a little bit of help from Google, David found the formula used in the DCF method and was able to get an evaluation of his company by combining the formula with the average value of his investments and revenues.
When faced with a problem, he once again studied it in-depth, found a solution, implemented it based on his own knowledge, then validated the result with professionals.
“The problem is about risk. Who is taking all the risks here about making any kind of financial statement? Ultimately, it’s not about whatever numbers you put in the spreadsheet, it’s about who is on the hook for it. If you go and do a deal, the truth is that I’m the one who is on the hook for it because it is my company,” says David.
He didn’t immediately have this mindset of assuming risk and responsibility. That came after many years and dollars spent on finance managers – forcing him to conclude that sometimes it’s just better to do it yourself.
“I think the lesson for business owners is know your numbers. You should have them memorized. You should know exactly what you’re spending, you should know your payroll, every single thing – you should have it and know it all. Like, I can tell you my evaluation and all this stuff and how I got there. When you do that, you’re independent. Your accountants and your finance people, they’re there to answer your questions,” David adds.
And he applies this mindset everywhere, even with his employees. If he feels that the work isn’t progressing fast enough, he puts on some music and gets coding himself.
David firmly believes that business owners must be able to jump in and intervene in their business activities whenever there’s a need. “So, if you run a company that involves any kind of code, you should be able to code. It doesn’t mean that it is what you’re doing, but everybody’s got to know that you can weigh in if you have to.”