My Worst Day

Photo Credit: Jaisen Mathai

My Worst Day

This post is part of a series chronicling my 3 year startup journey. Each post can be read individually but to get the full picture I suggest starting from the beginning.

It was around 4pm on a Friday and I found myself stuck in traffic on 101 northbound. I was by myself so I couldn’t use the HOV lanes; not that they were any faster.

Typical scene on 101NB. Credit: Ed Hunsinger CC BY.

Let’s rewind a bit. Patrick first emailed me on June 30th of 2011.

I’m offering my help because I think your idea is great and it will be something special. – Patrick, in his first email to me

I doubt he thought that email would result in him leaving his job and flying to the US just 9 months later. It was his first of many visits after he joined me as co-founder. Patrick was living in Belgium during the first two years of OpenPhoto. His visits became frequent and my kids adored him.

Deep thoughts in traffic

Back to that traffic I was stuck in. March of 2012 was a particularly difficult time for our company. We were making great progress on our product and signing up more users every day but we were struggling to raise capital. We didn’t realize this when booking flights for Patrick to come out to California.

There were a lot of thoughts running through my head as I stared at cars with people who had normal jobs. People I imagined at the time to not have the type of financial and business stress I was feeling that day. I thought to myself, “Patrick used to be one of those people.”

I wondered if I had ruined Patrick’s life. I also knew that I needed to greet him with a smile and enthusiasm at SFO.

It’s one thing to have a bad day because I’m stressed about my own life. There was something extra terrible to think about how my actions might have inadvertantly affected someone else’s.

A great first visit

The stress subsided once I arrived at his terminal and picked him up. Being in the same room and working together was theraputic for us and we accomplished a ton in just one week. It helped to get on the same page and come up with a plan we both believed in moving forward.

Don’t get me wrong. We had a lot of difficult conversations surrounding the business. But by the time he left a week later we felt confident in a plan to keep going.

OpenPhoto and Trovebox nearly died that week and I have Patrick to thank for its survival.