A personal reflection on 2014

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With 2015 looming just around the door many of us often look back at the year prior. As I reflect back there were no intentions to be in the place I currently am.

There are a lot of things I’m proud of and things I’m not. Here are some of the highlight.

  • Got to work with Tandem Capital in Burlingame, CA
  • Worked with the powerful Kevin Chick-Dockery as my personal start-up life coach
  • Moved from the suburbs of Chicago to silicon valley
  • Advised 4 different companies
  • Produced a start-up conference in Memphis, TN
  • Helped a company get acquired
  • Pivoted my company from Furywing to GetBetz
  • Keynoted a start-up conference
  • Got closer emotionally to my wife and friends
  • Experienced half the migraines I normally experience
  • Started getting gray hairs on the right side of my body (I started getting them on the left side only last year lol)

The full epic:

In the beginning of 2014 my start-up was given the opportunity to work with an incubator in silicon valley. The deal structure was new and required the work of lawyers to decipher. I ended up saying yes to the opportunity and drove with one of my business partners to Burligame, CA at the very end of February. We lived in a hotel and a house we found on craigslist until the end of March.

The outrageous cost of living in silicon valley / San Francisco was something I knew about but was ill-prepared to deal with for as long as I ended up having to.

We were expected to close an angel round of funding in July, which fell through. At the beginning of July I did another drive from IL to CA with all of my wife’s, business partner’s, and my own belongings. It was a drive unsuited for the largest Penske diesel truck available, but never the less that is what we used. Having the pedal to the metal just wasn’t enough for the many mountains we traversed on I-80 struggling along at 45 mph up hills with a top governed speed of 70 mph.

July till September was a near nightmare. The idea of being married and living with your business partner felt like a sitcom. My wife was expecting fresh air and for me to have control of our future, but we soon learned none of us did. We live on the top floor with our only windows facing a courtyard.

Unfortunately we were unable to have our windows open for more than 10 minutes at a time due to chain smoking neighbors right below us. The heat, lack of fresh air, and horrible smoke with occasional strong garlic and onion really tested our marriage. The lack of funding was the core of the problem but these issues intensify the core to a chicken pox level of annoyance.

Everything was going to bad enough to the point of September 15 being declared the day I officially give up building the company. On September 1st a new type of inspiration struck me. It was a combination of desperation, love, and selfishness that led to a synapse that leads us to today. I talked it over with my wife and we agreed to try out the new idea but to also look for other work.

The new idea or pivot has a customer base, a user base, an important function for other VC backed companies, and the opportunity to grow into a larger end vision that my business partners see being the big ticket.

After a month of building through October we were ready to test in the beginning of November. We had $150 to run a two week test. We had set our expectations and after the test we exceeded our numbers. Everything I wanted to happen just magically worked. Desperation makes us lean, while comfort makes us fat. I think the same applies to products.

Now with 2015 approaching and 6 investment pitches under my belt since November 19, realizing it takes on average 40 investor pitches, I feel selfish and hopeful. It’s weird to allow myself to feel selfish.

I never wanted to be selfish. I always felt I was doing things for “us”. My wife always said “the world revolves around Jared” and I always fought that notion. I try hard to make it revolve around her, poking and creating opportunities. September is when I changed the way I look at my world.

At a conference in Las Vegas, pitching the new product and idea before it was even built and getting people wanting to use it changed me. I didn’t have to sell so hard like products and visions I normally have. This new product was needed. The person to get it from vision to product to profit was me. No one on my team was qualified to create the business plan and product, and no one was capable to describe a vision that rejuvenated the company that had been struck down so many times that we were on the edge of surrendering.

We feel different because we are different. We are in the future, but now we are not too far in the future. The world revolving around me has enough gravity to bring new people into our crazy, fractured world and the only thing I can offer is love and an expectation so strong that I radiate certainty.

I wish us all the best in 2015. I plan to be more social.