What sort of impact did the experience near the end have on you?
There is no question I came away from the experience at Productopia very bitter, disappointed and upset. You constantly run a tape in your mind of why didnt I do more when I knew that things were going bad. Why didnt I take more aggressive action? You start going into self-doubt. What had me go so far, but not go farther?
How quickly were you able to bounce back?
My wife and I took a month-long trip to Australia and I was in another startup by December. The month-long trip was not long enough. It was a month and that was great, but I was still bitter about my experience at Productopia. You just dont get over that in a month.
Do you think you have gotten over your experience at Productopia?
When I dont think about it
I just take failure very badly. I cant stand to lose. It really bothers me. When I talk to people they cant understand that I relate to it as a failure. For me the only success is if the company is still in existence, producing value for real customers and obviously generating positive revenue to sustain the business.
My experience at the next startup lasted seven months. We decided to hibernate the company around the end of June 2001. Even though it only lasted seven months it was a very enriching experience, I built a wonderful relationship with the CEO and we are still great friends today. It was a breath of fresh air to meet someone like him on the rebound from Productopia. It was very helpful in the healing process for me. That experience helped me relearn that you can go through the experience of being in a startup, having it not succeed, but come out of it still feeling whole and complete.
What did you do after that?
I knew I wasnt ready to jump back into anything. My wife and I had always wanted to travel around the world so we thought this would be the perfect time. We started our around the world trip in February 2002 and returned in April 2003. The trip was incredibly healing for me. It gave me time to remove myself from the craziness and take the time to think.
What are you up to these days?
Of all things, I am in the midst of my own startup.
What is one of your core philosophies moving forward with your new startup?
I have a huge reluctance to go out and get venture capital funding. For me, it is back to the days of having a small team working closely together to develop a solid product. It is back to the garage. To be honest, I am finding it difficult to find people that are willing and able to go back to the garage. There are a lot of burnt out, bitter people out there and with the high cost of living in the bay area, going without a steady income is not really an option.
A friend of mine was one of the founding development team members at Siebel and for the first year they worked for no pay, worked in one room and they all bought their own computers, desks and chairs. Now thats a startup! I want that kind of startup environment again. I want that back.