Was reading the latest post from Albert Wenger, a partner over at Union Square Ventures. His post was about companies that started as consumer sites and who now want to switch to a white or private label service and the potential difficulties in making the transition. His primary reason seems to be that once a company is built as a consumer facing entity, it doesn't have the DNA to switch to a company that has to deal with the whims of white label clients.
I somewhat agree and disagree with that statement. Yes, getting into the white label (we call it private label) business is not easy if you don't have the technical infrastructure or the mindset of a client-consultant organization. I wouldn't say it's necessarily impossible though. If your core technology is built on a flexible platform, making the changes to your technology should be relatively simple - like building a different front-end UI instead of rebuilding a new product from the ground up. As for the sales mentality, I think any good entrepreneur needs to have that to become successful regardless of whether they are selling to clients or to investors or to potential team members. If you don't have that mindset already, I don't think you'd be very successful regardless if you're transitioning to a white label path or sticking with a consumer strategy.
When we started Centrro, we were solidly going down the white label path. However, we've since added a consumer facing product (KnowBeforeYouApply.com) and will be adding another one shortly. Though they both try to reach two different markets, they both rely on the same underlying technology which we've built to be very flexible. Most of all, I think having good people on board makes things a heck of a lot easier. Our business development and technical teams are what drive our business and with them on board, we'll be able to zig and zag our way out of any jam.