“… The choice is yours: to go or wait.” [Gildor said.]
“And it is also said,” answered Frodo, “Go not to the Elves for counsel, for they will say both no and yes.”
“Is it indeed?” laughed Gildor. “Elves seldom give unguarded advice, for advice is a dangerous gift, even from the wise to the wise, and all courses may run ill. But what would you? You have not told me all concerning yourself; how should I choose better than you? But if you demand advice, I will for friendship's sake give it.”
The problem is, most of your advisers probably didn't know and, more importantly, couldn't know if the IBM sale would pan out. If they said stop, and you did, and failed anyway, what if they felt bad at whether the IBM sale might've worked?
The world is big and unpredictable and replete with stories of people advising others that something can't be done or shouldn't be done that way, only to have the advisees ignore the advisers and do great things. Hell, see this post: http://matt-welsh.blogspot.com/2009/02/how-i-almost-killed-f... for an example of well-meaning advice that, if taken would've been wrong.
However, its just as important to never stop thinking about your world-domination vision. I'm sure every one of the most successful tech companies in the world has heard all of the same criticism from well-meaning advisers along the way. Start with a focused smart plan, execute it well, and don't lose sight of the ultimate destination (which may change along the way too as you learn more).
Just as you used to do, most people do not listen when criticized harshly.
You can try to blame your advisers for not telling you to avoid IBM, but in the end, it's still your fault and not theirs. In fact, they probably tried to tell you that, but you didn't want to hear negatives.
It's good that you can hear them now, but that still doesn't help most other people, and those advisors still have to deal with those people.
This wasn't a case of needing harsher advice (too many people are addicted to self-flagellation, as if crushing your own dreams was a sign of maturity) but a case where a fledgling company took a big risk. Risks are risks, there's no way to to apportion blame or change course in hindsight. This just as easily could have been a post thanking his many mentors for their sound advice and encouragement that saw him through to getting his first big sale to IBM. Just because the other party in a negotiation is a big corporation that lumbers along and takes forever to make up its mind, there's no need to berate oneself for not having tried harder or seen x,y,z in retrospect. I say good on him for having gone balls to the wall to bring his vision to life, and good luck with his current venture. But the lesson here is not about advisers, in my view, it is about caution when dealing with massive organizations.
Either you give advice about what doesn't work, or you don't... you can't do both.
It's tough because people are nice, but as an entrepreneur, I learn the most from the negative advice I have gotten from mentors (I've been ripped apart many times).
So now, when I give advice, I give my true honest opinion if I don't think their idea will work. I just preface with it saying, look, this is only one opinion, and not to take it personally.
And when I get ripped into, I always listen and ask questions, but I don't necessarily let it discourage me.
I think you can always tell by people's expressions if they are holding back. If you think they are, you should ask them: "It seems like you have some reservations about this, what are some of the risks you see?"
With that, you'll be able to get more insight, and you just have to remember that there's tons of risk, it's just up to you to decide how risky each situation is (and how to mitigate that risk).
Even if it was not successful, it is a great story and demonstrates great potential. Congrats on your failure!