Fouling Out and Moving On

– 748 words

Today is a bittersweet day. I am closing one chapter of my life and opening a brand new one.

My startup is dead.

You can read the official announcement on the Notifo Blog. After 20 long months of trying to build the best notification platform for the modern, mobile web I must come to terms with the fact that I failed in one critical area: creating a viable business model. There is no money left, so the journey must end here.

I am feeling alternating waves of several different emotions as the finality of this decision sinks in: anger, grief, disappointment, guilt, relief, sadness, anxiety, excitement, and fear. I honestly believe that I tried my hardest to make things work. After it looked like Notifo was not going to be the success I hoped it would, I tried creating several other apps in hopes of scoring a hit and reviving the company. No such luck. I am most disappointed in myself because even though I feel I tried my best, I must admit my best was not good enough. I have learned so much going through this process, and yet I feel as if I am letting those people who believed so strongly in me down.

The gist of Paul Graham's essay "How Not to Die" is "Don't give up." Well, sadly I give up. I'm done. After critical examination of my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health (not to mention for the sake of my marriage), I have decided that I cannot continue on this way. I need to reset my life and get back on track for a while before wearing the founder hat again.

Fouling Out

I was discussing my situation with a close friend a few weeks ago. I told him things were looking bad, and I was looking for my next move.

He asked, "So what happens when you foul out?"

I said, "I don't know. I guess I'll find out."

I still don't know exactly. I'll be dealing with the process of shutting down the company over the next couple of months as I deal with taxes, legal papers, refunding investors the little money that is left, etc...

But, I liked the way he phrased that question. The world is filled with sports metaphors, and being a huge baseball fan I really enjoy that variety. Usually when people goof up or fail they are said to "strike out." I played little league baseball as a young lad, and as a batter, striking out is no fun. There are two ways to strike out: looking and swinging. Striking out looking is the absolute worst feeling. It means you just watched a perfectly good ball fly by and did nothing about it. Striking out swinging is a little better because at least you made an effort to swing the bat, but you just didn't make contact.

Fouling out is still hard to swallow, but it means something different. It means you stood up to the plate, swung the bat as hard as you could, and made contact with the ball. But, in the end, you're still out.

This startup was my first at-bat in the major leagues. I stood up to the plate, tried as hard as I could, made contact a few times, but was never able to put the ball in play. Now my at-bat is over. The good thing is, there is more than one at-bat per game, but it might just be a while before I step up to the plate again.

Moving On

As I saw this day approaching, I starting preparing for my next role in life. During the past few weeks I spoke with several companies in the SF Bay Area about potential opportunities with them. I hope to write another post sometime about that whole process.

After making some very tough decisions, I am happy to announce that I will be joining Twilio as a Senior Software Engineer working toward the betterment of the real-time web, something I am deeply passionate about. I have had a great relationship with Twilio for the past two years working with their products and getting to know people that work there. Twilio's vision of improving communication in the cloud is something I firmly believe in, and I am excited to help create the magic that they provide to improve the lives of developers the world over.

A bittersweet day. One chapter closes, another one begins...

Further discussion on Hacker News.

— Fin.
Tagged: startup ycombinator tech

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