It’s been a bit over a year ago since I started this business.
After a long time of hustling, I’ve finally taken a moment to sit back and process it all. Count my wins and losses, make sure I’ve learned all the lessons that I need to learn… that sort of thing.
It’s made me think about how I started. Whenever someone would ask, I would always tell them that it “kind of just happened” like some awesome stroke of luck. Honestly, that’s not totally accurate. The truth is a bit more… harsh.
I was thrown into it.
I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart though. During college, I would work two or three odd jobs to get by. I would build websites for local businesses, sell TV’s, wait tables, cook, valet cars… hell I even started and eventually sold a small SaaS company before that was a thing people were doing. Whatever it took to get the bills paid and still have enough cash to go out at night.
After I graduated, I decided it was time to move to the standard: 1 job, 1 side-hustle. With my rebellious personality, a startup was the obvious choice. So I landed a development job at a mobile startup that sold ringtones and games and what not, way before the App Store was a thing. It was amazing. I learned more in the first 3 months than my entire college experience.
But, being the entrepreneur in spirit, it wasn’t enough. I felt trapped — like a big fish in a small pond. So with a heavy heart, I moved on. On to bigger and better things, just two blocks down the road in downtown NYC to a marketing company.
This was also, as you would expect, incredible. I met some of the greatest people ever and found a mentor in my boss that would teach me more about business than I thought possible. He taught me the in’s and out’s of the corporate world, how to work with fortune 500 clients and how to through the bullshit to build something great. But, this marketing company was owned by a massive parent company that had other plans for us all.
Without going into detail, let’s just say that things lost their magic after a while. So, I moved back to startups. I chose an amazing, yet seriously risky startup. Their idea was crazy, which was right up my alley. They had an incredible product, users and revenue so I took the risk. Another few years of working as hard as can be, and they ended up being acquired by Amazon. What an incredible experience, but it left me with a bit of a problem.
I was right back in the big corporate world again!
Not that it’s a bad thing…. I buy tons of stuff on Amazon and run pretty much all technical operations on Amazon Web Services (AWS.) Plus, after all that risk (and stress) I sort of romanticized the idea of a safe job at a big company with a normal pace of work. This realization lead to a decision: If I’m going to work for another big company, I should probably get to choose who it is.
I wanted a change of industry and a major media company wanted me to run engineering for their entire digital media division. This was it. My decision was clear.
Running my own engineering team, doing things the way I wanted them to be done. Twenty or so people under me, hundreds of millions of users each month and a dozen or so major media properties under my care. The dream.
Then I got fired.
With a new baby at home, a mortgage, car payments and a single income. We were now, a zero income family.
At first, I was (obviously) upset. Not just at the thought of “what the hell am I going to do to support my family?” Mostly at the thought of “what the hell do I do next?”
I had no idea, so I decided to take some odd jobs in consulting until I found my true calling, whatever that means. Thankfully, I always kept my side-hustle(s) going so I had a foundation to stand on.
As it happened to turn out, I’m pretty damn good at helping people build money making apps. I also have a certain knack for growing and scaling tech startups. People really needed help in these two areas and were willing me to pay me to solve their problems. (Yay!)
I didn’t really know how to turn that into full time work, but it didn’t matter – my decision was made for me. My clients were pretty much pushing me towards this at full speed. So I gave in and opened up shop.
Now I help 2 specific groups of people and its great. The “I want to build an app” group and the “I want to grow and scale my tech company” group. I love them both very much.
The best part? My clients and their results are absolutely amazing.
I never would have believed that one of my first clients would have been purchased for $3M. Another one raised $2M. Another has a $6M valuation. Another grew from 300 users to 30k. And that is just scratching the surface. None of this would have happened from behind my old desk.
None of this would have happened without having a side-hustle either. (Please tell me you are working on an app on the side. You don’t want to be totally screwed if you get the axe, do you?)
It’s also given me something I never expected: Freedom. The freedom to spend more time with my family and even cofound a big-data startup, which I am fairly confident will be worth billions in the next few years.
Most importantly, I don’t have to deal with corporate politics anymore. I can be who I want to be and do what I want to do. I can be my own boss.
The truth is, getting fired could be the best thing that has ever happened to you.