As many of you may be aware, I left work in April to pursue the Great American Dream. Start a business. Today a stream of news left me in a bit of a position and now I will share all that I can.
As the Jim Croce song goes, "I've got a Dream."
As I was coming to the end of my time with my last company, a product was beginning to manifest in my head. It was the result of technologies I had learned about in most of the jobs I'd ever held. It was almost like each area I worked in was a piece of a puzzle that was beginning to form into a solid whole. When I left work, I didn't have this idea figured out. It was something buzzing at the back of my brain. Our plan was to move to the Seattle area, see what came to fruition, and if nothing presented itself, I'd go back to work for "The Man."
Right after I left work I attended a developers conference. I got to see all the new technologies there were being built into the Mac OS. I saw one that caught my eye. It wasn't quite that last missing piece of the puzzle in my head. But it was the motivation to cause my subconscious and my conscious to start having a discussion. In my head I saw two entirely different technologies. The technologies not only hadn't ever played well together, I think that was a result of the fact that no one had ever really thought to introduce them to each other.
I thought to myself, "Oh come on... People haven't ever thought to put A+B?." Now granted... people had thought of something similar... About 10-15 years ago. But the technologies were in their infancy. In truth one wasn't even that far, one was still a few rungs down the evolutionary chart. But now... now it was possible. The computers could handle the workload, and the interest was obviously there in the field. Actually there was a lot of money being pushed into several of the technologies I was looking at and no one had thought to corral it the way I was imagining.
I called (okay, iChatAV'ed) jnanacandra I babbled for about 10 minutes about this idea. It all just made too much sense. It was blatantly obvious that this would work. All I'd need was about 6 programmers and about a year of development. Ah. Right. But there it was. An idea so cool that the few people we talked to (and had sign NDAs) all (well all but one) lit up and encouraged us. We were moving to Seattle with a hot idea and a passion to set the software industry ablaze. How could it be wrong?
The state business license was a walk in the park. The move went off... well, with hitches, but we got moved and situated. I even qualified for Unemployment having walked off the job with 0 notice because things were that bad there. So, savings, a small income flow, and a potential contract to do some research. I was working on code. Proofs of concept. Granted... the truth was... quite simply... we needed money. When it comes down to it... I don't know how much of the actual code I will ever write on this. Oh, I could probably write the entire thing on my own. (In about 2-3 years) But that's not gonna pay the bills in the short term.
So work on the code slowed down as I tried to figure out how to bring in funds. Which nest eggs could be salvaged. Then as we were getting down to our panic time... we figured out what we needed to get to the next level. We got a wonderful investor to agree to a micro loan. The micro loan was enough to keep us floating for 3 more months and pay some needed business expenses (Payment for someone willing to write a business plan, transition to LLC, set up bank accts), and would even support itself over the next quarter.
Well, that was until today. Unfortunately, our micro loan will now be delayed. As it stands, we've run through the bulk of our support structure. And bulk means about 99%. The way the morning played out is as such. I checked out accts to see where our finances were. (ugh, not good at all). I checked to see if the I'd gotten status on the loan. And it just had come in. Definitely delayed. I took about a minute to sit there in cold panic. Then I turned to the wife to tell her what the situation exactly was. We were crossing a danger line.
So, with vanishing finances, zero assets, and tarnished credit; I walked to the two local corporate banks. (Okay, I drove 3 blocks). I put all my cards on the table. I fully expected zero help from them. I did get some references to work with. I will investigate them tomorrow. But as it stands, right now. I need to figure out how I'm going to meet any bills until this situation changes.
So, what am I doing?
Well, to be honest... I'm panicking. But that's okay. Because above all, I'm not giving up hope and I'm sure as hell not giving up on my dream. Before going onto this paragraph I took a small break. I wanted to reference a post that I made about 3 years ago in reflection of the success of my insane 10 year plan. I found the post and got hung up on some words that I wrote as my 10 year successful self looked back on my 10 year younger self who was near the depths.
I look at him... I realize that memory and reality are two very different things. He's smaller than I remember. It makes me oddly self conscious about my weight. He asks how our family is doing. This gives me several unexpected twinges. I know he's trying to care about the answer...but hasn't let go of the anger yet. I'm not prepared to tell him that our father has just passed within the last month. I can only say, "Exactly as we expected."
Despite the hardships he's going through I can see a light in his eye. Ready to make his mark on the world (though he has no idea how) I'm reminded of an ex-gf who commented about that light that I had and how over time it seemed to dim a little. It's something I think about from time to time and pray is not truly lost. He doesn't ask a lot of questions. I realize and possibly for the first time realize how passive he really is and how much potential for submission he will unintentionally realize. I want to grab him by the shoulders. I want to warn him. Tell him not to be afraid of who he is or what he can accomplish. I hear the voices in my past saying it to me...and the times I ignored them. Why would the same words coming from me...even earlier on...make any difference?
I've changed a lot in the last 20 years of my life. And I'm at that point where this will be the 20th anniversary of my graduation from High School. This means that the year I graduated, some people who are today legal adults weren't born yet. But in many ways I haven't changed. I am a work in progress with stuff I need to learn and accept about myself and things I need to change.
One of the hardest things I've encountered is knowing how to ask people for money. Banks, organizations, people.
As previously explained... My life changed when I was 11 years old, when my father suffered a massive stroke. My father began to do 2 separate things that would effect the way I dealt with situations as I was and have been growing up... 1) He never conveyed the reality of our situation to us, to anyone else, or even to himself. 2) He began to live off his relatives.
For about fifteen years straight there was a special job opportunity he was waiting on. It was going to make everything right with the world. But then again, there wasn't really anything wrong with the world. We were moving almost once a year (that I'd later discover was due to evictions). He was getting driven places (because his license was revoked when he was caught driving a car with lapsed registration and insurance). Better to give the semblance of normalcy that admit that there were problems. Up until about 3-4 years ago, I was trained in, "Find the good answer rather than the honest answer." And I'd had my share of hiding the truth.
Interestingly it was when I realized that one person I dated preferred that I hide the truth rather than admit it openly that those wall finally broke. I learned that communication, honesty, and reality were really the only thing one could ever really base their life in. Wonderfully, after that realization, it would be less than a year before I found myself happily involved and engaged. But it took me a long time to really see it for what it was and what was necessary to make the change in myself.
Then there was the living off the relatives. To give the appearance of "No, no... everything is fine." My father had managed to open a gaping hole into most of my relatives' personal worth. I am given the impression that he managed to bleed dry the accounts of both grandmothers and fairly close to both great aunts. The knowledge of which is what prompted me to put him into a homeless shelter and cut him off from his supply chain. Aren't I a great kid.
So. The idea of surviving, prospering, existing at the hand out of others, is really quite the anathema to me.
So... here is my situation. Tonight, I'm going to try to figure out how to value a company that has nothing but hardware, software, and a good idea. I'm going to figure out how much I've put into it and how much I think it's worth. Tomorrow I'm going to start selling ownership in the company. Anyone who is interested will hear exactly what we're working on. You can buy as much of the company as you want up to the % available. We're going to do it completely legitimately. And once the company makes more... the value will increase.
What will the money be going for? I'll be quite honest. It will be to initially pay our expenses until we get more through other loans. It will continue to allow us to develop the project. It'll give you a vote in what we are doing. We will also be contracting in people to do work specifically to advance where we are. Personally, we're enthusiastic that you will see return on this investment. But it is a risk. Such is a business investment.
In the meantime, unless everyone decides to buy a portion of the company in the next week and we get all the money we need to hire developers and start full development, I will be going back to work full time to help pay our living and R&D expenses. Several friends at well-known companies have offered to circulate my resume. If that offer still stands, I'll officially take you up on that now. Even at 'that' company. As always, I've always had a dream of being an Engineer at Apple. Someday maybe. (Though I hoped it would be by building up a proof of concept of my project and getting bought by them for a couple of millions)
I only have two requests for any company that might hire me.
1) I will commute for work; Even if this means flying down and living there part time. I like my new home in Snohomish and would like to stay there. I am fully capable of telecommuting very well.
2) I will continue to work on my project in my time. Much like a pre-nup, it is mine coming in and unless you're willing to buy the idea from me, you don't automatically get it from me because I work for you. And unless it's signed under NDA and non-competitive agreement, I'm not even going to tell you about it.
So, where are we? Well, right where we were when I sat down at the computer at 2 PM to start writing this. I need to research how to valuate a company in my state. How to offer shares of said company and how to process any moneys that come in. I'm also more than willing to give larger shares to people willing to contribute business knowledge or software assistance.
All contributions for now will go through Paypal. My Paypal address for this is: firstname.lastname@example.org (remember, only one L in apolo).
Anything that comes in early will be valued at the opening share value that will be published on the web site.
It's a long road. It's a scary one right now. But I really believe that we're going to succeed at this. Even if this turns out to be one of our darkest moments.
1) We are looking for investors.. Now. The business needs support.
2) I am going to reenter the corporate engineering world, and you could be the person who gets the signing bonus.