Plug-pulling is Agony

pull-the-plugIt’s the most difficult decision a startup entrepreneur can make. In fact, I’ve never done it before.

It took me a long time to write this post. Every other time I started a business, eventually a new opportunity would come along that made sense, and I’d sell my business, or go forward with an acquisition. Each exit was a win for me. I used to take great pride in the fact that I never failed with any business I started.

I can’t say that anymore.

Big Mountain Data was my most ambitious venture yet.  Its thesis was predicated on the fact that there is a preponderance of data collected every day on domestic violence offenders that could be mined and analyzed to make predictions on which offenders are most dangerous. The data could then be used to intervene in the cycle of violence.  Across the country, the data could be used to identify, track, and hold offenders accountable.   Of course, I still believe this is true, but I wasn’t able to sell a single client on giving us the opportunity to do this, or build applications based on existing data collection.

Looking in the rear-view mirror, it’s more obvious how I misjudged the opportunity. It mostly boils down to this: just because something can be done, there will be a “market” for it. This is a rookie mistake, and I should have known better. Resistance to what we wanted to do arose from every facet of the field. I learned a lot, and for that I’m grateful. I’m also very grateful for the many individuals and groups that supported our mission along the way. Some special people even donated to our startup fund. That really means a lot to me. I won’t be pushing this post to social media, so if you come across it in your reader, feel free to leave a comment.

I’m horribly disappointed in and ashamed of this outcome. Not only because of the personal failure, but because of the impact of what we could have achieved if we’d been successful. Of all the businesses I started, this was not the one to fail. My only hope is I planted the seeds of looking at domestic violence in a different way, and that someone of influence will pick up where we started. For that reason, I’ll leave the web site up and the various blog posts that tracked with our progress.

Who knows.  Maybe I’ll pick it up again some day.

In the meantime, I’ll be reverting this blog back to publishing various and sundry personal thoughts from time to time.  It’s hard to believe I’ve been posting to this blog for over nine years.  It does serve as an interesting roadmap to my exploits over this phase of my life. Thanks for reading and taking a personal interest.


Creative Commons

zuckI just watched Mark Zuckerberg do a live Q&A on Facebook.  He said a few things that I will quote:

“We’re here to connect the world… The best entrepreneurs don’t try to create a company.  They want to make a change in the world and help people… I am not a cool person.  I never tried to be cool.  I spend every day thinking how to best serve this community.”

I wake up every day and work on either Change Agents Worldwide or my new passion, Big Mountain Data. Both businesses are precisely more like “projects” (as he described Facebook was in its early years) than businesses.  Both have soulful purposes and have drawn incredible people to our mission. It’s magical to be able to wake up every day and take another step on these journeys.

I see so many founders mindf*ked over how they’re going to raise their round, tweak their MVP, secure the perfect cofounder, nail the product/market fit, get the “right” coverage, blah blah blah.

Just do it.  Build something you love.  The reward is in the work and seeing your dream unfold.  When you start racking up results from your efforts, it’s the absolute best feeling in the world. You can’t possibly predict in the beginning what your business will look like or will need over the long term.  But you can predict what will inspire passion in your team. Focus on that, and just get something out there.

You can see the whole Q&A here.