**Running a Marathon, Not a Sprint**
By Andy Lee with assistance from Google Bard, ChatGPT and DALL-E
“Running races is not about beating other people. It’s about beating yourself. It’s about pushing yourself to the limit and seeing what you’re capable of.”
David Goggins, Former Navy SEAL and best selling author of “Can’t Hurt Me”
David Goggins is known for his mental toughness and his ability to push himself to the limit. He reminds us that running long distances is not for the faint of heart; it requires a great deal of mental and physical toughness. It is also an incredible accomplishment that can be life-changing. I’m currently reading his 2nd book, Never Finished, and found a lot of inspiration, strength and similarities with running a race and mentally grinding to run a startup.
Today marks four years since we launched Sprout, and keeping with our running theme and forgive me for the pun, but what an Olympian journey it’s been. We’ve faced our fair share of challenges, but we’ve also achieved some incredible milestones. One of the things we’ve learned is that running a successful company is like running a long distance race. It’s not about sprinting to the finish line and you’re done – because you are not. It’s about pacing yourself, preserving and staying the course. And once you are done with that race, there is another, and another. As Goggins says, “Most of us stop ourselves from achieving success because we quit too soon.” There will be times when you feel like giving up, but if you keep going, you’ll eventually reach your goals.
We started Sprout in 2019 with a mission to help companies grow and succeed. Last year I wrote about how we got started. We knew that there was a need for a different platform and a better way to help businesses manage their shareholdings, ESOP, automate their workflows, and connect with their stakeholders.
We spent the first nine months of our company planning and building our product, not knowing that we would be walking into a full-blown global pandemic. Despite it all, we were all in – determined to make it work. We were fortunate to have a great team of people and backers who were passionate about our mission, and we were able to weather the storm.
In 2021, it was easy to raise money. Funding and crypto was on the rise, and everyone was looking for the next big thing. We announced to raise millions of dollars in funding and expanded our equity management platform to uniquely support token ownership.
In the latter half of 2022, the market became more turbulent. A lot more. Crypto crashed, then some banks, and now we are entering a very low season of fundraising and another full blown global financial crisis. We adjusted and laser focused on priorities and made some tough decisions in order to weather the storm again.
2023: Looking Ahead
“China is a sleeping giant; let her sleep, for if she wakes, she will shake the World.” Napoleon Bonaparte
Created by DALL-E
For the last 3 years, we believe that China has been the “napping” dragon of the global economy, and she is reawakening out of a post Covid world. We believe that China will be the engine that restarts global productivity. Although the environment in 2023 will be challenging for many of us, at Sprout, we are continuing to invest in our product and our team, and we are confident that we will come out of this stronger than ever and are preparing for that eventual recovery.
To that end, we are excited about the potential of China, and inspired by what is to come, we continue to work on new features to improve our solution.
Our company was incubated by Mustard Seed Ventures and our group company, Roots Technologies, was born. From Roots, we built and launched our equity and ESOP management platform called Sprout and in 2022 we announced the launch of Folium, which is Latin for “Leaf”.
Meet Rongshu (“Money Tree” in Chinese), the Chinese version of Sprout. Rongshu 容树 means banyan tree, but we replaced the first character with 融 which means to “fuse” or “to be in harmony”. Typically this character is also used in “finance” 金融 or “financing” 融资 so thus, Rongshu represents the fusion of our brand, mission and entry into Chinese equity management space.
What does this mean? We launched the following features as we embark into the next chapter of our journey.
Chinese Language Support: We have added simplified and traditional Chinese language support on to Sprout
China Tax Withholdings: We are offering China tax and social benefit withholdings to help businesses comply with China tax laws at the national, provincial and city levels. We’ve preloaded Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen with all major and minor cities across China coming soon.
Stock-Based Compensation (SBC) Expense: You’ve asked for it and here it is. Introducing SBC expense reporting to help businesses calculate and manage their employee expenses.
Sprout for Enterprise and Broker-Dealer Enhanced Support: Along with workflow automation tools like our powerful ASDP, we proudly announce enhanced services for enterprise and listed companies. Sprout can customize and solve complex software integrations, providing the highest quality of Sprout excellence for any institution and their clients. We can support broker-dealers and their listed company clients by providing our financial management platform as a separate or as a white label solution. Announcements of key partnerships are coming so please keep watching this space!
As we conclude our reflections on the past four years, we’re filled with gratitude for our amazing team, supportive partners, and loyal customers who have been with us every step of the way. Together, we’ve accomplished so much and we’re just getting started.
Looking ahead, we know there will be more twists and turns, but we eagerly await. We’re committed to continuing our journey with the same perseverance, grit, and determination that got us this far. We are excited about the future of Sprout, and we are confident that we can continue to help businesses grow and succeed.
Thank you for being part of the journey thus far. Onwards and upwards!
Co-Founder and CEO, Sprout