Embarrassment Is Embarrassing.

I haven't updated many people on what i've been up to lately.  And there's a simple reason for that: embarrassment.  It's not fun to talk about being a failure.  Part of me didn't want to be dramatic in telling a story and having people read into things, but I'll try to be a little more transparent and see where that gets me. Maybe the last thing you knew was that Hollrback launched, I was traveling around talking to amazing people about it, and getting awesome feedback.  And then things kind of hit a brick wall.  I ran out of money to sustain myself, and I knew that if I could no longer eat or have a place to live that Hollrback would ultimately suffer.  So I made the really hard choice to give up with ad-hoc projects and dedicated Hollrback efforts and get a "real job" in order to keep things afloat.

This is how I failed Hollrback.  This is how I failed Omaha.  This is how I failed my friends that had faith in me.  I had to cave and push Hollrback aside in order to survive, in order for Hollrback to survive.  I was once told by a representative of a local tech blog that Hollrback was no longer a "company", but a "small side project" due to the fact that I had to get a job.  I was completely crushed.  I'll never forget that feeling, Hollrback was now seen differently because I needed to be able to pay rent.  Now I wake up every morning, look in the mirror and see a fuckup.   Everything negative that comes to me I've seen since then as justifiable punishment for not being good at what I do.  If you've never been there I don't expect you to understand.

I really, really tried.  It's really, really hard.

This was months ago.  As time went on deadlines took time away from what I was passionate about and put energy into what I had to do.  Don't get me wrong, my job is great.  I'm building some neat stuff for neat people.  But Hollrback was getting farther away from me every day.  I didn't know what to do next.

I was alone with a product that I saw as something the world could really use, and I had no idea what to do with it.  It wasn't about money, it only had to do with my inability to do anything successfully.  I have no idea what I'm doing, and I've been pretty honest about it if you've ever approached and asked me.

Early on I was pretty confident I would build a great product, but I had no idea how to build a great business.  So my plan was to surround myself with people that would work with me on that journey.  Ultimately when it came down to it none of that really worked out. Not for any reason in particular, it's just hard.  Everyone involved has been top notch and I think highly of them.  But once I found myself stuck I put all pride aside and started to contact people that I respected, and others I didn't know but who others respected.  Some pushed me aside, others replied with an "it's ok to fail".

And that's what you're thinking right now, aren't you?  I get it a lot.  "That's too bad.  What are you going to work on next?"  I feel pretty strongly that if you had something you were ready to jump on at the first sight of strife that you never really cared that much about what you were doing in the first place.  I don't have a plan B or a "next idea".  What's wrong with this one?  It's not Hollrback who failed.  It's me.  It's just me.

In my mind I ask a series of simple questions.  "Is Hollrback pretty great?  Yes.  Does people think highly of it?  Yes.  Do people want it to succeed?  Yes.  Is there a competitor in the space that has succeeded where Hollrback could not?  No."  If any of the answers were any different than those I'd gladly pack up my code and move on.  But Hollrback is bigger than myself.  It has nothing to do with me, my success, or me being right or wrong.  It's about giving something to the world that I thought that it could use.  If I ever felt that it wouldn't benefit people I would have given up.  It's never been about me.

That being said, I'm trying to figure out what's next that's in Hollrback's best interest.  In no scenario would folding it benefit anyone.  Remember when I asked if there was currently a better solution than it, and I answered no?  If there was, then I'd let them do it and I'd be a happy user of their service.  But even the people with millions of dollars behind them (and have copied some Hollrback functionality, I'm honored) can't make things take off.  To me that's called an even playing field.

So I'm looking at options.  I think the incubator/business accelerator model is perfect for me.  I want to be surrounded by people who have done it before.  But Omaha doesn't currently have anything and the "big ones" out there care a lot about you having an awesome team, and I have no team.  It's just me.

So that's that.

I thought about disabling comments to this post, since I assume the responses will be over simplified (everybody seems to know what's best when they're not involved), but go ahead.  Tell me what you would do if you were me.  Keep in mind this isn't a product issue ("U SHULD ADD BADGES AND INSTAGRAM SUPPORT"), but a larger issue regarding myself and my attempt to give something to to the world.  If you know someone that might be interested in talking with me, go ahead and share this post with them, I'd love to chat.

I have more stuff you can read if you like. You might like these:

Gabe Kangas

Oct 20, 2011