Frontline Growth

The Pointy Story: First Principles Thinking Wins

The History of Pointy

I first got introduced to Mark in 2012 by his college friend Lucinda, whom I worked with at the time.

We kept in touch and in 2014, Mark told me about his plans for Pointy. The vision at the time was to make all products in physical stores searchable.

Indexing the worlds physical products was an ambitious task. It was also a known problem that many had tried to solve, and failed.

I had done due diligence on a number of those companies during 2010–2013 which usually took the same approach — integrate with hundreds of point of sales systems. ie: play a game of whack-a-mole.

One of the things that defines the Pointy team is their first principles thinking. They took a completely different approach to collecting the data and didn’t accept anything that would prevent them getting to being able to collect *all* the data.

"He's on a boat?!"

Great founders hunt great co-founders.

When we first met Mark, he was busy convincing Charles (on his sailboat in the Atlantic) to turn around and join him to set up Pointy. Two weeks later Charles did just that. Charles had some of the equipment onboard to start working on the initial hardware prototypes as he sailed to Ireland. At that point Frontline invested $100k, the first check into the company. We subsequently led the Series A in 2017.

Along the journey it felt like Mark and Charles thought 100x more than other founders about the following:

  • Scale: We always felt that Pointy MVPs were always more than that. They took the extra time not to make the perfect product before releasing it but to make sure it could be scaled
  • Automation: the DNA of the team was always to hire exceptional people who could automate most tasks. As a result for the initial years Pointy was a very small high performing team (<20 until relatively recently)

 

And they thought 100x less than many about near term revenue — and did that very consciously. Below was the opening board slide for one of the 2018 meetings — which definitely set the tone!

Pointy Status Goals
Pointy Board meeting opening slide - mid journey

That way of thinking ruled out a lot of investors along the journey, but those who did believe the data value (including Polaris, Vulcan, Draper and many others) knew if you could build it there were many ways to monetize it.

What the Pointy team did in building a technology that could capture product purchase data from any point of sale in any geography and publish that including images to the internet was extremely technically complex. They created a technology that did not need power or wifi on install and reduced the onboarding to “open the envelope and plug it into the point of sale USB”.

How they did it all was with first principles thinking, business curiosity, endless drive and strong values. The founders and team deserve every bit of their success. Thank you Mark, Charles and all at Team Pointy ⛵️

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