Friday, November 17, 2006

Pulling Things Together

A few weeks ago, I agreed to become the CEO of a startup. It wasn't a snap decision. I'd done this before - more than once - so I knew that if I stepped into the role, I was probably looking at committing at least 3-5 years of my life to this new company. For the past five years, I've been mostly retired, investing in a few companies here and there, managing a couple of artists (Kan'Nal, Otis Taylor and Clay Rose) and writing music as often as I could. But about a year ago, I helped fund a company with a few other friends of mine who do angel investing - including Howard Diamond, Brad Feld and Niel Robertson, and this time I became more than a little involved. I helped to chart the company's early course and took a seat on its Board of Directors.

Fast forward a year. I'm now back in the saddle, working with a management team to refine the company's value proposition and create a compelling offering - a business that will keep me sufficiently engaged that when 3 or 5 or 7 years have past, will have been a "game worth playing." I've always had a pretty simple definition of success for these things. Everyone - entrepreneur, management, employees, investors, partners and customers - can pretty much count a venture a success if they'd be willing to do it all over again. And that's my goal here. After the years have passed, I'd like most of the folks involved in this to be able to say that they were glad they gave whatever they had to give, and be able to say, in addition, that if they had it to do all over again, they'd do it again.

And that certainly has been true for me. Not all of the experience I've had in startups has been positive, but for the most part, my experience has been extraordinary. I love most of the people that have worked with me, and I'd work with them again in a flash. And I feel fortunate that many folks who worked with me before have the same perspective and have said they'd like to work with me again. My role in every one of the startups I've led (FortNET, NETdelivery, Service Metrics, and Latis Networks (StillSecure)) has been challenging and worthwhile. I've learned at least as much from my mistakes as from my successes. And I've been fortunate enough to make a good living. And then some.

But now that I'm at this again, I thought it might be worthwhile to do a "startup blog" to capture some of the ups and downs in real time. And if my previous experience is any indication there certainly will be ups and downs, highs and lows. At the moment, we're still pulling things together - the plan, the team, the financing, the partners - but it won't be long before things shift into higher gear. And I suspect there will be plenty of things to write about.

1 comment:

The Lal said...

Tom,
Good luck on the blog. A little more 'visibility' than u've likely had in the past. Hopefully will lead 2 some useful dialogue.

Good 2c another startup in Boulder/CO. More the merrier on the mid-West attempt 2b more Web 2.0'ish!

B interested 2c what u're up2 (besides some iTunes/podcasting? recording 4 some radio stations etc..)

Lal