Saying goodbye is hard. Saying goodbye to a relationship you care a lot about, is even harder. Today I’m publicly announcing that I have left Contour.
My first start-up love, I never imagined the journey we would take. When Jason and I started the company we had no expectations and hardly a grand vision for changing the world. We were just passionate about making video simple and building our own company. And personally, my only goal was to learn a lot.
It’s hard to believe that over nine years has passed since we began in my parents’ house. I can still remember nervously asking my uncle to co-sign our first loan of $50K so we could start the company. I had no idea if we would lose it all or become a meaningful business.
Our first office was in Mountlake Terrace. It had no heat, carpet over a concrete floor, and no sign on the door. It wasn’t much, but it was ours. Even though our salaries barely covered our own rent it was a start. It was something we could be proud of, even if our own parents didn’t believe we would succeed
Over the years we experienced incredible highs and terrifying lows. I remember the swing from surviving the worse economic collapse anyone had ever experienced where we reduced the company from 19 to 12 people to 18 months later being #7 on the Inc500 and Washington’s #1 fastest growing company. Winning products awards, like the Red Dot Design Award was humbling, but my favorite moments were talking to customers who loved their product. Whether it was on the mountain or at a trade show, it was amazing to think that real people actually bought something we created. It’s what kept me inspired for so many years.
These are all experiences I will forever be grateful for.
Of course there were a lot of things I wish I had done differently. There were a lot of experiences I wasn’t prepared for as a 20-something running a company and although I made the best decision I could at the time, it’s hard not to look back and second guess myself. Ben Horowitz has always said “The only thing that prepares you to run a company is running a company.” I couldn’t agree with him more.
Fast forward to today, the market for wearable cameras is very different than when we started. In the beginning wearable video cameras wasn’t even a category. At its infancy it was a bunch of hardcore sports enthusiasts strapping cameras and cables to their bodies to capture their exploits. Being pre-iPhone, Facebook, and even Twitter when we started, it was hard for people to imagine that someday millions of people would be wearing cameras, recording their active lives, and sharing it with their friends online.
It turns out, that is exactly what happened.
One of the most difficult decisions in my life, the company needs fresh legs and a leader with a different set of experiences. The category has exploded. GoPro has raised a truckload of money and large players (e.g., Sony) are trying their hand at wearable cameras. The company’s core challenge now is competing on a brand, marketing, and sales front, which is not consistent with the experiences I bring to the table.
As I reflect on my time at Contour I feel incredibly blessed to have led such an amazing group of people. It’s hard to appreciate what you have until it’s gone and although I will miss everything about Contour, I am proud of what we accomplished. I’m also incredibly grateful to everyone who helped us along the way. To all of our customers, retailers, partners, investors, and former employees…thank you.
I have come to believe that if you let it, life will unfold itself in ways you can never imagine. Moving on from Contour is the first time I can really let life take me wherever it wants. Being able to reflect on the last ten years of my life and what I want to do next is something I know I will look back on as a defining point in my life. I’m incredibly excited about whatever comes next.
For now I’m traveling the world and helping other start-ups. And although I don’t yet know what my next company will be, I have learned that I am a creator. Being an entrepreneur is my passion and building great companies is my destiny.
I look forward to the next decade of my life, I believe it will be my best yet.
Photo Rights: Kullez (http://www.flickr.com/photos/kullez/) via Creative Commons