fall

Fall is a bitter sweet season for me this year. I'm looking forward to the cooler weather, apple and pumpkin pie, beautiful leaves, and all of the other things that people enjoy about the season. On the other hand, I'm sad to see the summer fade away. The summer of 2014 has been one of the most difficult summers of my life and it doesn't feel like it is coming to an end in the way that I had imagined at the start of the season. 

I started the summer off by moving to Boston. My company had been accepted into a startup acceleration program called Bolt. Bolt is specifically aimed at hardware companies. They are one of the few groups in the country that has been focused on that space. It was an exciting development that felt like the start of a great chapter for the company. 

We were supposed to stay at Bolt from May until around November or December of 2014. Our company was focused on entering a new market for our product and preparing for a new round of fundraising. As part of that process I put my house on the market in Champaign and my wife started looking for a job in the Boston area so that she could join me out there.

Everything seemed to be going according to plan at first. We had a ton of interest from other companies and potential customers. My house sold quickly. My wife had several interviews with great companies in the Boston area by the middle of June. I was quickly falling in love with the Boston area and it seemed like a place that I could live for the foreseeable future. 

One month later everything started to slowly unravel. It started when we decided that we wanted to extend the amount of time our company had to raise money.We began looking for a way to sell off our consumer product so that we could focus on the commercial product. That process looked incredibly promising at first, but one of the potential deals fell through at the last minute and sent our team into a bit of a tailspin. This resulted in yet another change of focus for the company. That process is still ongoing, so I won't go into very much detail at this moment. 

The result of that change is that I moved back to Champaign IL to attempt to broker the sale of our consumer IP to another startup. The company is no longer pursuing the commercial market we were focused on at the start of the summer.  We've gone from a team of six working out of a fabulous office in downtown Champaign to a team of three working out of a cool incubator in Boston to a team of one working out of a cubicle.

It has been a humbling and difficult summer for me. I learned a lot of lessons about what not to do at a startup. I've gone back and forth between feeling like I was on top of the world to feeling like a total failure more than one time. The intensity and frequency of the emotional swings was unbelievably intense by the time I moved back to Illinois, but thankfully that has settled down over the past few weeks. 

 I wish I had a great ending to my story, but I'm not there yet. One day I'm sure I'll look back on this summer and reflect on all of the lessons I learned, but for now it just feels like a mess without an end. Here's hoping the ending comes soon and has a surprising positive twist.