At the time of writing this, I have failed on two different occasions on kickstarter. My first attempt was in college, 2012. Me and my friend Brock had an idea that was basically the smartest collaborative photo sharing app imaginable.
Imagine taking a picture with some friends, having your phone automatically detect facial recognition, know based on your geo location and from your friends on Facebook who might be in that picture with you, and send all of them a notification with a copy of the photo. Plus, all the photos that you & your friends take will automatically be uploaded and available to each of you on a private album. No need to physically upload, no need to create the album first and invite people, just automatic based on time, location, and proximity of friends nearby. We called it skuddle, you can check out the original kickstarter page here.
Sounds amazing right? So why didn't it work? Everyone we talked to about it loved the idea. They said it was the coolest thing. So what happened?
What if my startup ventures fail? Well... the numbers pretty much tell me that I'm going to. Ok... now what?
Something that I found extremely helpful to ask is, "What's the worst case scenario?"
Is the worst case scenario that I will become homeless? That no one will ever hire me again and I'll have to roam the world like a nomad without having two nickels to rub together?!
Obviously not! Realistically the worst case scenario is that I'll have to work for another tech company earning close to $100,000 a year, an engineer's salary. .... Wow.... sounds terrible :)
Hey I’m thinking about quitting my job and starting a company. - You
Yeah?…. - You’re Spouse
Not the greatest start towards the path of being your own boss, but for many of us with wives, husbands, and partners, it’s the conversation we need to have before venturing out in to the unknown world of startup life.
When I was first toying around with the idea about leaving the startup company that I was working for, I had told my wife Lacey about it. Her concerns were the normal ones:
The reason I chose to bootstrap was because of my answer to a very simple question: What does success look like to me? May not seem clear how that helps, but just follow me for a few paragraphs.
For me, the epitome of success doesn't look like the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. I'm sure it's fantastic, but I don't think it's for me. To me, success comes in the form of being Time Rich and having the freedom of travel.
What does success look like to me? Obviously to have a shit ton of money, but more specifically what does it look like? Does it look like a CEO position of a major corporation? With hundreds of employees? Fueling your passion and leading your company to the day for that successful IPO?
For a long time, this is what I dreamed about, this is what my answer was to that important question. My hero was Steve Jobs, and I wanted to be exactly like him. I read his biography by Walter Isaacson, and was amazed by all his triumphs. His obsession with creating great products was so inspiring. His intense focus and tenacity, the ability to strip away what didn't matter, and his shear will that fueled his return to Apple, it was legendary stuff. And I loved watching his keynotes. They were absolutely mesmerizing. He is what success looked like to me.
Over the years my vision of what success looked like started to change. As I trace it back, there were several key things that happened that kickstarted this change.
With technology for what it is today anybody with a laptop and internet can start their own business over a weekend. Don't believe me? Check out this book, it will change your mind.
More and more people are opting for the business owner position instead of the employee position, which I love! A part of me wished I had started sooner. But, I'm also very thankful that I didn't. Mostly because I didn't have the answer to this really important question.