Commit 20b6144a authored by Jaisen Mathai's avatar Jaisen Mathai
Browse files

Adding the struggle and making updates

parent 21b2e887
...@@ -2,7 +2,7 @@ title: Jaisen Mathai ...@@ -2,7 +2,7 @@ title: Jaisen Mathai
description: description:
logo: bio-photo.jpg logo: bio-photo.jpg
disqus_shortname: disqus_shortname:
#search: true search: true
# Change url to your domain. Leave localhost server or blank when working locally. # Change url to your domain. Leave localhost server or blank when working locally.
# You don't need to specify the protocol if you want it available on http and https. Example: //localhost:4000 # You don't need to specify the protocol if you want it available on http and https. Example: //localhost:4000
#url: http://localhost:4000 #url: http://localhost:4000
...@@ -37,9 +37,9 @@ links: ...@@ -37,9 +37,9 @@ links:
- title: Home - title: Home
url: / url: /
external: false external: false
# - title: Start-up - title: Start-up
# url: /openphoto-trovebox/ url: /openphoto-trovebox/
# external: false external: false
# http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_tz_database_time_zones # http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_tz_database_time_zones
timezone: America/Los_Angeles timezone: America/Los_Angeles
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...@@ -15,25 +15,23 @@ share: true ...@@ -15,25 +15,23 @@ share: true
*Runway* is what start-up founders call the amount of time until there's no money left to feed their kids. Prior to funding, a start-up's runway is a function of each founder's ability to survive without collecting a paycheck. Since Rachel was staying at home with Tavin (and later our daughter Elodie) it meant our runway was whatever money we had available in the bank and brokerage accounts. *Runway* is what start-up founders call the amount of time until there's no money left to feed their kids. Prior to funding, a start-up's runway is a function of each founder's ability to survive without collecting a paycheck. Since Rachel was staying at home with Tavin (and later our daughter Elodie) it meant our runway was whatever money we had available in the bank and brokerage accounts.
## When my start-up met reality ## Kickstarting OpenPhoto
I remember telling Rachel when I left my job in May that I'd go no longer than 6 months without funding. Founders tend to underestimate the time required to raise funding. Keeping that in mind, I felt 6 months was both aggressive and realistic. It was 2011 and Kickstarter was only 2 years old. The largest campaign hadn't yet broke the $1M funding level. It was also a time when Kickstarter had to approve which projects could launch a crowdfunding campaign on their site. Fortunately they picked an idea I submitted.
Determined to close a round of funding by the end of 2012 I warmed up leads and had a spreadsheet of a couple dozen angel investors I knew by 1 or 2 degrees of separation. I probably still have that spreadsheet laying around; it'd be fun to dig up. I launched my [Kickstarter campaign for OpenPhoto](https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jmathai/openphoto-a-photo-service-for-your-s3-or-dropbox-a) on July 1<sup>st</sup> of 2011. It was an intense 30 days during which I received press coverage from [Techcrunch](http://techcrunch.com/2011/06/29/former-yahoo-engineer-quits-to-build-a-flickr-killer-on-kickstarter/), [ReadWrite](http://readwrite.com/2011/06/20/save_your_photos_to_amazon_or_dropbox_with_app_pla) and others. By the end of the campaign I crossed my funding goal by raising $25,242 of my $25,000 goal. The successful funding from Kickstarter helped validate not only that people were interested in OpenPhoto but that they were willing to pay for it.
## Kickstarting OpenPhoto
It was 2011 and Kickstarter was only 2 years old. The largest campaign hadn't yet broke the $1M funding level. It was also a time when Kickstarter had to approve which project could launch a crowdfunding campaign on their site. Fortunately they picked an idea I submitted. The Kickstarter funding wasn't a proper angel or seed round but I knew it would help. In fact, the exposure from Kickstarter [helped get us accepted by Mozilla into their WebFWD accelerator](http://blog.webfwd.org/post/9300091721/webfwd-welcomes-the-first-fellows). WebFWD didn't include any funding but legitimized us a little bit more and we got access to some great mentors and investors.
I launched my [Kickstarter campaign for OpenPhoto](https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jmathai/openphoto-a-photo-service-for-your-s3-or-dropbox-a) on July 1<sup>st</sup> of 2011. It was an intense 30 days that didn't follow the typical inverted bell curve of funding that most Kickstarter campaigns do. Instead I received a big boost in the middle of the 30 day campaign when [Techcrunch covered OpenPhoto](http://techcrunch.com/2011/06/29/former-yahoo-engineer-quits-to-build-a-flickr-killer-on-kickstarter/). It was time to turn that into a successful angel round.
By the end of the campaign I crossed my funding goal by raising $25,242 of my $25,000 goal. The successful funding from Kickstarter helped validate not only that people were interested in OpenPhoto but that they were willing to pay for it. ## When my start-up met reality
The Kickstarter funding wasn't a proper angel or seed round but I knew it would help. The exposure from Kickstarter [helped get us accepted by Mozilla into their WebFWD accelerator](http://blog.webfwd.org/post/9300091721/webfwd-welcomes-the-first-fellows). WebFWD didn't include any funding but legitimized us a little bit more and we got access to some great mentors and investors. Determined to close a round of funding by the end of 2012 I warmed up leads and had a spreadsheet of a couple dozen angel investors I knew by 1 or 2 degrees of separation. I probably still have that spreadsheet laying around; it'd be fun to dig up.
It was time to turn that into a successful angel round. It had been 15 months since I told Rachel that I'd go no longer than 6 months without funding. Founders tend to underestimate the time required to raise funding. Knowing that, I felt 6 months was both aggressive and realistic.
## The first wave ## <a name="first-wave"></a>The first wave
Between October and March we talked with numerous angel investors while also pitching Kapoor Ventures and Khosla Ventures amoung others. I knew the pitches weren't going well. If an investor is interested, you'll know. I knew anything else meant there wasn't chemistry. Between October and March we talked with numerous angel investors while also pitching Kapoor Ventures and Khosla Ventures amoung others. I knew the pitches weren't going well. If an investor is interested, you'll know. I knew anything else meant there wasn't chemistry.
...@@ -43,9 +41,11 @@ When fundraising it's vital not to take rejection personally or as a sign you wo ...@@ -43,9 +41,11 @@ When fundraising it's vital not to take rejection personally or as a sign you wo
2012 came to an end and I was faced with a decision and an unfulfilled promise I made to Rachel. I experienced something at that time which would be a recurring theme over the next 3 years; Rachel's unflinching support. 2012 came to an end and I was faced with a decision and an unfulfilled promise I made to Rachel. I experienced something at that time which would be a recurring theme over the next 3 years; Rachel's unflinching support.
In February of 2012 we were invited to interview for the IO Ventures accelerator. Over 700 companies apply and they pick a few dozen to interview. I was optimistic about our chances but in March we got the email that we didn't make it in. In February of 2012 we were invited to interview for the IO Ventures accelerator. Over 650 companies apply and they pick a few dozen to interview. I was optimistic about our chances but in March we got the email that we didn't make it in.
> Unfortunately I have to inform you that your company wasn't chosen to participate in the spring i/o startup program. You were one of over 650+ companies to apply and made it to the last round in our process.
The thing about start-ups is you only dwell on failure long enough to learn something and then you move on. There's always too much to do in too little time. We continued looking at funding opportunities which led us to the Knight News Challenge. The thing about start-ups is you can only dwell on failure long enough to learn something and then you move on. There's always too much to do in too little time. We continued looking at funding opportunities which led us to the Knight News Challenge.
I was introduced to someone at the Knight Foundation by the person we pitched to at Kapoor Ventures. I was too naive at the time to know better than to ask an investor who didn't invest for an introduction to someone else. Nonetheless we wound up not receiving any funding from the Knight Foundation. As with previous dissapointments we didn't let this stop us. I was introduced to someone at the Knight Foundation by the person we pitched to at Kapoor Ventures. I was too naive at the time to know better than to ask an investor who didn't invest for an introduction to someone else. Nonetheless we wound up not receiving any funding from the Knight Foundation. As with previous dissapointments we didn't let this stop us.
...@@ -75,9 +75,9 @@ We never decide anything that day. ...@@ -75,9 +75,9 @@ We never decide anything that day.
At any given point we were in discussions with or waiting to hear back from several potential investors. In February I had come across a foundation I'd never heard of before, the [Shuttleworth Foundation](https://www.shuttleworthfoundation.org/). At any given point we were in discussions with or waiting to hear back from several potential investors. In February I had come across a foundation I'd never heard of before, the [Shuttleworth Foundation](https://www.shuttleworthfoundation.org/).
The Shuttleworth Foundation invests in people working in the areas of open data, open science, open government and other open things. It was a long shot but that hadn't stopped me in the past so I did the work to find out more about the foundation and figuring out who I might know working there. The Shuttleworth Foundation invests in people working in the areas of open data, open science, open government and other open things. It was a long shot but that hadn't stopped me in the past so I did the work to find out more about the foundation and figured out who I might know working there.
A friend of an acquaintence, Philipp Schmidt, had previously received a grant from the Shuttleworth Foundation. I talked with him and told him about OpenPhoto. He thought it was a good fit and introduced me to Karien Bezuidenhout, COO at the Shuttleworth Foundation. A friend of an acquaintence, [Philipp Schmidt](http://www.media.mit.edu/people/ps1), had previously received a grant from the Shuttleworth Foundation. I talked with him and told him about OpenPhoto. He thought it was a good fit and introduced me to [Karien Bezuidenhout](https://www.shuttleworthfoundation.org/about-us/team/karien-bezuidenhout-chief-operating-officer/), COO at the Shuttleworth Foundation.
I'd go on to receive a fellowship grant from the Shuttleworth Foundation. It wasn't until later that I realized how fundamental the foundation's fellowship model would be to the ultimate success of OpenPhoto. I'd go on to receive a fellowship grant from the Shuttleworth Foundation. It wasn't until later that I realized how fundamental the foundation's fellowship model would be to the ultimate success of OpenPhoto.
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---
layout: post
title: "The Struggle"
description: "Our path to fundraising took many detours and caused a lot more stress than I imagined."
category: openphoto-trovebox
logo: site-logo.png
#tags: [sample-post, readability, test, intro]
image:
feature: so-simple-sample-image-2.jpg
credit: Michael Rose
creditlink: http://mademistakes.com
comments: true
share: true
---
There were many days and even weeks where I was convinced all this was a huge mistake. Ben Horrowitz, a well known venture capitalist, blogged on this topic in 2012 in blog post also called [The Struggle](http://www.bhorowitz.com/the_struggle).
## It's complicated
Us humans are neither binary or entirely logical; thank goodness. We're complex creatures and what constitutes happiness, contentment, joy or any of the opposite emotions depend on a large number of factors. This makes *The Struggle* even more acute.
## Something
The struggle started for me near the end of 2011 when we were failing from all angles to raise funding. I knew from the beginning that we absolutely needed to secure funding to succeed. I won't go into the details of our fundraising journey in this article but you can [read about it here](../fundraising/). The reason this was so difficult was multifold.
### No funding
There was a clear consequence of not raising funding; we'd have to abandon and shut down OpenPhoto. But there's a tougher reality that had dawned on me.
*Does shutting down mean failure? How would I explain this to friends and family who thought I was making a mistake 6 months ago? Do I just go back and get a normal job?*
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