Today, one of the guys I met as a fellow cohort founder when I arrived at Bootup Labs wrote a blog post that has started a wider conversation on some of the developments recently here at the accelerator. I won’t recount that; you can find the story at Techcrunch, gigaOM, ReadWriteWeb, and others. You can read the Bootup Labs piece here.
Jamie was one of the co-founders at a company called Status.ly and one of the accelerator cohort members I definitely got along with best. Jamie and Daniel from Zedmo were two people I considered among my first friends here, and both remain friends following some of the unfortunate realities that blew through here recently.
Some of the original Bootup cohort members are no longer with us here, leaving behind Compass Engine, Summify, and my team at Foodtree. The details around that unfortunate development are intimately tied to the difficulties present in today’s early round investment community, and I think if you poke through those articles and specifically the Bootup Labs official blog post, they’re pretty well covered.
In the process of closing a funding round, some concessions were made and the roster had to be shortened. Those of us who remain are in office, and trying to make use of the resources we have here.
I suppose I’m writing to to share a bit of the perspective I have as someone who was a part of this process, and yet remains in Bootup Labs. This is my personal blog, and not our company’s official blog, mind you.
I think it’s important to note that everyone involved, both founders and Bootup, did their best to deal with the challenges that presented themselves and lead to what happened. We were all frustrated when it looked as if the funding round was in jeopardy; having worked in finance and investments I wasn’t surprised that things like that could change quickly, but nevertheless I made the same sacrifices that Jamie made.
I sold my stuff. I emptied my bank account. I came here with very little in my pocket and I have spent my bank account dry more than once since January. I flew to Vancouver with two bags, and I am living out of them.
I did that knowing full well that the financing was contingent. That was a risk I was willing to take.
All of that aside, I had no expectations of an easy road, and I quickly dispelled any expectation of seed investment from Bootup. Our team had (high) hopes that we’d be able to avoid Bootup’s capital component, the details of which have been a bit misconstrued around the web, but don’t add a whole lot to the discussion. Even when Bootup’s capital line became our most attractive potential source of capital (after we already knew the funding round was in jeopardy), we worked under the assumption that chickens aren’t counted before they hatch.
I don’t mean to suggest that Jamie counted chickens, and I sure as heck don’t intend to undermine any of Jamie’s thoughts or opinions. I mean, I moved here knowing three people, and the people I met at Bootup were my social circle; losing those four teams was painful. It was devastating for all the companies – and the companies no longer here are dealing with the resulting challenges. I don’t wish that on people I consider friends and have a huge amount of respect for.
The companies who are still here have our own challenges. We’re all working day and night to build exciting products and traction. We are learning more every day and we’re mindful of the experiences we’ve had so far. Nothing is guaranteed. We are fully responsible for making this work.
And there aren’t hard feelings around here…as I write this post there are members of Zedmo and Blastramp in our offices, plugging in and getting sh*t done. I keep in touch with Jamie and hope to see him again.
If anyone out there has questions about this situation or even what it’s been like to launch a startup in a world that throws you curve balls, please feel free to reach out. Comment here, hit me up on Twitter, or shoot me an email. Speculation doesn’t carry any real value these days…I’m a firm believer that transparency is paramount.