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It was good while it lasted…
This is my site Written by matan on December 28, 2009 – 3:38 pm

“A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.”

– Mark Twain

… that is, until the cat figured out it was more flexible than I was, with pointy teeth and sharp claws.  Ah, experience…

We have different names for it: Monday morning quarterbacking, 20/20 hindsight, and the proverbial School of Hard Knocks.  But one thing I’ve learned so far is that some things—no matter how good of an idea it is at the time, no matter how much we pour ourselves into it, and no matter what we do—just aren’t destined to succeed.

As harsh as it is, not all businesses will succeed.  Not all relationships are meant to be, and that’s what this post is about.

A little while back, I bid farewell to a startup I cofounded.  It was a very emotional farewell, but it was one of those strings that just needed to be tied up or cut loose.  In the end, it made more sense just to cut it loose.

We set out to better the world.  We had the best of intentions, the noblest of ideas—protecting children on the Information Superhighway.  Our particular path involved designing a biometric sensor to determine the age of the user, thereby erecting a physical barrier between children and adults.  We popped the champagne and proclaimed, “Hooray!”  We were sure we had single-handedly ended child molestation and pedophilia on the Internet.  The press agreed, and we even signed a partnership agreement with a very highly regarded US security company.

And all was good.

Until reality hit and it was a little like realizing you had that cat by the tail and you weren’t quite sure what to do with it.  Oh, woe to the company who doesn’t take into account bootstrapping!  People weren’t buying our devices.  Social networking sites were hesitant to integrate the technology until we could prove the sales.  And then, to top it all off, engineering issues related to the accuracy and security of the device surfaced.

Jack Swigert said it best with, “Houston, we’ve had a problem,” and it would be logical to think that since Houston was Israel and the moon was Los Angeles, geography would be the primary problem.  Only it wasn’t.  The primary issue that surfaced was that the other cofounder was much more emotionally invested in the project and refused to let it die.  He should have cut his losses much sooner, but he didn’t, and because he couldn’t, he lost even more of his money and his time.

Sometimes, you just have to let that cat go and risk a few scratches…

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