After CSA had acquired Distil (see Software is People) I took 6 months off. I had some consulting work related to the CSA acquisition but that only occupied a couple of days a week. During that time I considered many opportunities. This is the story of how I can to work with my new co-founder on the next great adventure.
There were four possible next projects. The first was with our product manager from Distil. She had a fantastic idea for a social calendar app. She pitched the idea to me and a fell in love with it. At that time I wanted to learn Ruby and the Rails framework. This seemed like the perfect project to learn on. Plus I really wanted to help her out. She did a fantastic job building a user base in Ottawa, despite my crappy UI (I’m definitely not a client side code monkey).
Next was an opportunity to essentially rebuild Distil. One of the companies that had tried to acquire Distil but lost to CSA came to me with an offer. They would provide seed capital, office space and services to me if I wanted to continue the work we had been doing at Distil. That was very intriguing. After further discussions it became apparent that they wanted ownership of the new company. That was OK too. I was fine being essentially an employee, as long as I got paid as an employee. They wanted me to work for founder salary, i.e. making a fraction of my salary potential. The offer was clear — they would get as much as they could from me while giving up as little as possible.
My former CEO from Distil had a great idea to revolutionize the news industry. I looked into the technical side of the opportunity for him. I was very excited about working with him again. He was much more senior than me, with great contacts and decades of business experience. That he would consider me as a founding partner I took as a high compliment. Plus there was the security of being under his wing, having him look after me.
Finally there was Winston. He had done some sales work for us at Distil, but I had never really gotten to know him well. He was very interested in the social media space, specifically helping businesses use social media effectively. We bounced ideas around and talked about going into business together.
What convinced me that he was the right partner was something he said. “Business is like a marriage.” This was exactly how I felt. A successful partnership doesn’t work when one feels they are “helping” the other out. Or when one party is trying to maximize their return from the relationship. It also was time for me to step out from behind someone’s shadow, take responsibility rather than ride the coattails of another.
Like a marriage, Winston and I were equals in the truest sense. Our partnership was, and continues, to be based on mutual admiration and respect.
That is why I said yes to Winston and started my next adventure with him.