Recently I announced that Year One Labs was mostly complete; at least our active incubation phase. Instead of rehashing that, I’ll just re-publish this part of that post:
Year One Labs was the perfect antidote to my experiences just prior to starting it (which involved trying to build a company in the recruitment space during a recession). The ability to focus on a bunch of different projects, take a step back, build my network, rinse and repeat on the lean startup methodology, etc. were all fantastic experiences. I learned an insane amount, just as I had prior to that as the CEO/founder of a startup. But now, I want something different. It’s time for me to do something new, leveraging my collective experience as an entrepreneur, investor, and partner at Year One Labs to take on new challenge…
And today I’m announcing that I’ve joined GoInstant as VP Product.
GoInstant enables a shared browsing experience with no downloads or plugins. It works on any browser and on mobile devices. There are lots of use cases, but the initial focus is on enabling better sales and support through shared browsing. Instead of describing the product at length, here’s a video from TC Disrupt, where CEO and co-founder Jevon MacDonald presented:
Here are some of the reasons why I’ve made the move:
1. Team: For starters, I’ve known Jevon MacDonald for a few years. We’ve never worked together, but I’ve always been impressed. I don’t know the rest of the team as well, but I’m getting to know them quickly, and it’s a stellar technical crew led by co-founder and CTO, Gavin Uhma. There are always risks creating new teams (when founding a startup) or joining existing teams, but it was critical for me to trust the people and 100% believe in our ability to succeed together.
The team also extends to the investors. Jevon and Gavin put together a stellar group of investors, including some that I’ve met, spent time with and know. Their reputation, experience and ability to add value is incredible. This is important for a company that has big goals.
You can learn more about the team and investors here: http://goinstant.com/our-company/.
2. Product & Tech: GoInstant is a very cool product. It has some incredibly interesting use cases (some are obvious, some less so), tied to a genuine vision that’s really big. I’ll save some of my thoughts on that vision for later, but it was important for me to find a product that I could understand, see immediate value in, and see future potential in as well.
The fact that we’re going into a B2B market is also appealing. GoInstant will charge money for something customers need to do their jobs better. The clarity that comes with that is nice. We don’t have all the answers, but there’s a clear direction we’re heading in around the product and the product roadmap.
As an aside, while this isn’t a huge deal for me, the fact that there’s actual IP behind GoInstant is interesting. Execution is king, but underlying GoInstant is a serious amount of technology that’s not easily replicated.
Not everyone sees the benefit of GoInstant. Some shrug it off and say, “It’s been done.” Or, “I’ve seen people try that ten times before.” Maybe so. But I find Chris Dixon’s thoughts on “the next big thing will start out looking like a toy” very apropos.
3. Stability & Speed: GoInstant is very much an early stage startup. Almost everything still has to be proven. But at the same time there’s a certain amount of stability as well. The company is well funded and supported by great investors. There’s a solid team in place already. There are other stabilizing factors as well that increase my confidence significantly. At the same time, they now need to accelerate like never before — the rocket ship is fuelled, prepped and ready to go. The course is reasonably plotted, and we’re off.
When you start a company, almost everything is unknown. Worse than that, you spend a lot of time doing operational/organizational things (read: things you have no choice but to do) and brainstorming/planning (read: waffling about, with lots of uncertainty). I genuinely love those moments in time at the very beginning of a startup where a few people and ideas coalesce into something amazing. But I’ve spent a lot of time very involved in those moments with Year One Labs. Now it’s time to jump onboard at a slightly later, but still very early and critical moment.
4. Fun: I’ve listed this fourth, but it should be much higher. I’m starting to make personal decisions in my life dedicated to less wasting of time and bullshit. I’m committing myself to having as much fun as possible in everything I do. It’s easy to lose sight of what’s important in life…
This adventure with GoInstant will be fun. The vast amount of change that I’ll be taking on won’t be easy or without stress, but the challenge is too fun to ignore.
5. Focus: Joining GoInstant as VP Product allows me to focus on a few very specific goals – primarily: building a kick ass product that customers love. I’ll be involved in a lot more than that, but I’ve got an almost singular mission. That level of focus is extremely appealing to me. It’s nearly polar opposite to what I’ve been doing at Year One Labs, which involved working on multiple projects and context shifting many times per day.
Along with dedicating myself to having more fun, I want to focus on simplifying my life as well. That’s something I’ve struggled with for a long time. This move allows me to shave off some extracurricular activities and spend the bulk of my time on GoInstant.
So there you have it. Life wouldn’t be worth it without change. And I’m about to embark on the next chapter in my life, embracing a huge amount of change, making a big bet and (hopefully!) having a lot of fun doing it.
As an aside, this blog will continue as always. The focus may shift somewhat, just as my life shifts. I hope you’ll stick around for the ride!
One final thing: If you’d like access to GoInstant, get in touch. Or sign up at GoInstant. We’re primarily interested in B2B SaaS vendors, but we’re exploring all kinds of opportunities.