As founder of a growing software company, I’m frequently asked “how many customers” I have, to which I almost always reply by stating “zero.” This usually results in a confused facial expression, and at times the follow up question of, “well then how do you make money?”

By providing great software that solves problems and makes processes easier, of course!

You see, at My College Roomie, we don’t have customers. We have partners. By definition, a customer is a person or organization that buys goods or services from a business, whereas a partner is a person or organization who takes parts in an undertaking with others, especially in business, toward a common goal.

Customers simply exchange money for product. Partners exchange time, energy, and thought to build a working, reciprocal relationship for shared progress of all parties. Partners have a personal interest in working with us to make product and process better, which in turn only continues to benefit them more and more. Customers will share a meal with you to allow you to thank them for their business. Partners will also share a meal, but will also share laughs, stories, and ideas. Partners are friends for life.

At My College Roomie, we’re only interested in gaining partners, as partners have proven to be the most enjoyable part of running a higher ed software company. I’ve personally gotten texts and emails from partners during the wee hours of the morning, letting me know of a great idea that they didn’t want to risk forgetting by going back to sleep. They’ve called me from conferences, bummed out that we weren’t there to spend time with them, and I’ve called them simply to chat about the latest Game of Thrones episode, or to do a little football trash talking.

Partners work on a two-way street. Their input is so incredibly valuable to the success of our business – much more valuable than a dollar can ever be. We brainstorm new features and ideas to make better use of our software. And in return, we go above and beyond for them, making sure that we do everything we possibly can to ensure their happiness and success. We are a growing family at My College Roomie, and our family environment has allowed us not only to thrive, but to share our success with each of our family members. We’re personally vested in our partners’ success, and in turn, they’re personally vested in our’s.

We’ve built this family on partnerships, and thankfully, haven’t yet found one client who would prefer to simply be a customer. Building relationships and working with new teams to provide increasing levels of value has truly been the most enjoyable part of this business journey.

I’ve never been so happy to have zero customers.