It was July 7th, 2010. The day started off same as every other day. I slogged through my 45 minute morning commute out to the Microsoft campus, the same one I’d been doing every day for the past five years. When I got in, I caught up on some Email, grabbed some coffee, and then walked down to my manager’s office for what I thought was going to be a quick update on our plans for the upcoming fiscal year. I stepped into his office and was surprised to see he was not alone. Our team’s HR rep was sitting in there with him. It took me about 5 seconds to realize what was going on. “Microsoft has decided to restructure the operations of our team, resulting in the elimination of several positions…” My stomach sank. I was getting laid off.
The rest of the meeting was a blur of paperwork, though there was only one thing that was on my mind – what the hell was I going to tell my wife? She’s an amazing person and incredibly supportive, but making that phone call to her was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I headed home and dove headfirst into the pile of paperwork I was handed on my way out. While I was still completely in shock, amid the feelings of anger and helplessness I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of relief.
Working at Microsoft was an amazing opportunity for me and while I had a ton of respect for the people I was working with on a daily basis, I had known for a while now that it wasn’t the right place for me long term. As anyone who has read my blog for the past three years could tell, my true passion wasn’t with Microsoft or any other large company – it was with startups. And though I was still reeling from the big news, in the back of my mind I knew that I had one shot-in-the-dark opportunity to turn this whole thing around.
Over the past few weeks, I had been going through the application process for TechStars Seattle. For those who don’t know, TechStars is a technology incubation program that was started out of Boulder, CO and was expanding to Seattle for the first time in the fall of 2010. I had been following TechStars for a while and was stoked to hear that it was coming here to Seattle. Some friends and I had applied with an idea we built out at a Startup Weekend event in March, and to our surprise and amazement, managed to make it to the top 30 finalists out of a total of over 400 applicants. The decision to choose the final 10 teams was supposed to come out any day, but I just couldn’t stand to wait any longer. I dashed off a quick Email to the lead of TechStars Seattle, crossed my fingers, and hit send.
“You’re in. You guys will get an Email later today.” The Email came a few hours later, and I literally can’t even describe the excitement and joy and relief I felt from reading those words. I couldn’t believe we were actually going to be participating in a program that I had such a deep respect and admiration for. I went from sitting in traffic on the way to my ordinary corporate job in the morning to being an official full-time founder of a startup by the end of the day. Pretty incredible.
I’m not going to rehash my entire TechStars experience to date, but I will say, the past two months have gone above and beyond my lofty expectations. It’s been intense, but the people I’ve met and the experiences I’ve had so far have already put us and our startup in a fantastic position to succeed. I’ll have more to say after the end of the program in mid-November, so stay tuned. And in the meantime, if you have any questions about the program or want to be a part of our initial beta program, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interested in applying to be part of the next TechStars class in NYC? Applications are open now:
Also, the new book “Do More Faster” by TechStars founders David Cohen and Brad Feld is now available for pre-order at Amazon here.