By early 2012, my work life began to stagnate. The work stopped being exciting and I didn't feel like I was growing. At the same time, I was starting to resent Vancouver. It's so beautiful, so perfect that I didn't want to leave — but I knew that being there was holding me back. I was restless and I needed something new.
Feelings of angst ate away at me for about six months. Then, my friend and former classmate Fraser, called me with an idea for a startup. I had just finished a project with a similar strategy and execution and I saw an opportunity to productize the approach. At the time I had been thinking a lot about the challenges and shortcomings of the agency model. And I could see that many of the smartest brands were bringing more and more design and marketing talent in house. My worldview in that moment was primed to have faith in this idea and accept the challenge. I wanted to say yes.
Still, I talked to all the smartest people I knew just to make sure I wasn't doing something stupid. I talked to strategists, executives, and former entrepreneurs. Everyone I talked to was emphatic: they told me to go for it. Their excitement, encouragement, and support gave me the courage I needed.
Two weeks later, I had made my decision. I made the phone call, sent the emails, and officially quit my job. It was the scariest thing I'd ever done. I had never abruptly quit a job before. It felt like I was about to jump off a ledge and go into free fall.
Over the next two weeks, I ended the lease on my apartment and sold all my stuff. Each day my apartment got emptier until finally I didn't even have a mattress to sleep on. I had my last day at work on a Friday and the next day I was on a flight to San Francisco with only a carry-on suitcase and a back pack — all that was left of what I owned.
I arrived that evening in Sunnyvale, in the South Bay, to a two-bedroom apartment filled with five other people: Fraser, Brian, Sarah, Nick and his wife. There wasn't any real furniture in the apartment, just a plastic folding table, some black wooden chairs, and an air mattress for each of us. Just like that, there I was hanging out with a bunch of programer dudes, one programer gal, and a programer dude's wife. The contrast between my design-y, hipster-y agency life was stark. It really felt like I had entered a scene from the movie, The Social Network.
This was my new team, my new work environment, and my new life. We were all in Sunnyvale for a startup accelerator program, and it was my job to get us our first customer and to help raise money from investors.