I’m finally back in Seattle for more than a week. Today I attended the first networking event I’ve been to in months, and was pleased to run into recognizable faces asking me about LazyMeter, why I stopped blogging, and why I had a beard. To the naked eye it may have appeared as if I’d gone insane, but actually I was just busy and traveling a lot.
When I started LazyMeter, a lot of people said it would take longer than planned – about a year to get most projects off the ground. I thought 3-6 months would be plenty of time, but now that I’m approaching 9 months I know they were right. The good news is that while we don’t yet have a working product, we’ve nailed the design and are very much on track to deliver what we set out to build.
The common advice for startups is to rapidly release and iterate. This makes sense for startups inventing a new type of product, but we felt that task management was different because so many products were already on the market. Every time I read of a new revolutionary task management application, I get excited only to find that it’s just as time-intensive, manual, and overwhelming as the ones before it. After scrapping multiple designs, the LazyMeter team spent a week locked in an apartment in Boston (fortunately air-conditioned), and we finally found the solution for the problem we set out to solve. The solution is simple, but powerful, and unlike anything that has come before it. Development is underway, and I can’t wait to share a product that not only helps the user keep track of their to-do’s (the easy part), but also helps the user work through them. Taking the time to build the right product was the right choice for our project, and I’m thankful we didn’t rush out something that wasn’t fully baked.
Another common question I get asked is “how the heck are you doing this?”. As in not starving and living in a tent. We’ve been consulting, building a brand, web presence, and marketing strategy from scratch. The experience has been very valuable; in addition to income, it also builds a portfolio should we need to make additional income, and we made some great connections through the project. When the contract expired, I was offered the title Director of Marketing to stay on. Consulting was a good fit for us because I had extra time while the product was being built. It was distracting from our primary project, but then again so is raising money and dealing with investors. We are still in business and own 100% of our equity after 9 months.
Other than Boston, I did quite a bit of traveling this summer, some for good reasons and some for bad. Overall, I consider myself lucky to have been in a situation where I had the freedom to be where I needed to be. I traveled to Florida in May when my grandfather got ill. I was able to visit him for a full week and be there for my grandmother and mother. The doctor told us to say our goodbyes, but after days of sleep he made a miraculous recovery. When I walked into the hospital room that morning, he looked me in the eyes and said “how is the business?”. That’s my grandfather, an entrepreneur whose mind is always at work. I told him we were making progress but it was taking longer than expected. “Forget about money,” he said as if he read my mind, “do what you know is right and the money will come.” I will never forget how my grandfather inspired me to become an entrepreneur, and I will never forget this advice which told me he had gone through exactly what I am going through now. So much of this journey involves overcoming fear and following a gut feeling; if it worked for him multiple times, I know it can work for me as well. Unfortunately his recovery did not last long; a week later I was watching the sun set from a bluff on whidbey island and the moment the sun hit the horizon my phone rang with news he had passed away. I flew to Cleveland the next morning to be with my family.
My other trips were for better reasons. My girlfriend works in a local school district and had the summer off, and since I had the freedom to work remotely anywhere, we decided to take advantage of an opportunity we might never have again. Our first trip was to Sitka, Alaska for 10 days to visit some of her friends. Sitka was absolutely beautiful – I have never seen so much pure nature – but my favorite part was the relaxed pace of life. Early in the trip, we went fishing and caught enough salmon to eat for the whole week (baked, fried, cakes, smoked). We took a boat trip about an hour from the city to a cabin near hot springs; the cabin was double-booked so we camped instead. Along the way we saw humpback whales, sea lions, and seals (no bears on this trip). Our second trip was to the Oregon coast for a week when my family visited. We rented a nice house in Rockaway Beach and explored the beautiful coast. Our third and final trip was to Los Cabos, Mexico. It was nice to be warm for a week, and great to return to Mexico (I lived in Oaxaca, Mexico for three months during college and love the country). Highlights of the trip included racing a $15 million America’s Cup sailboat, a desert safari tour featuring a tequila tasting and a traditional Mexican meal on the pacific coast, and snorkeling atop a school of thousands of fish in Cabo Pulmo. In case you’re wondering how I paid for all this, these trips were actually very affordable – if I could only make money helping people get good deals.
So that’s where I’ve been, why I’ve been quiet, and why I have a beard. In closing, I must say it’s good to be home. There’s something surreal about being in Seattle this upcoming weekend, and the next weekend, and the next. I have gotten travel out of my system and am ready to work and do whatever it takes to get wherever it is I’m going. The adventure continues.