Four years ago I finally convinced Erica to let me quit my job. I couldn’t have picked a worse time. It was mid-2009 and the world was in the midst of an economic panic. We just had our first child six weeks earlier. What a strategy! Have a child, quit your job, start a business. Just what every girl dreams for her family.
Working from a 500 sq ft apartment in Palo Alto, Erica never complained. Listening to pitch calls from the living room with a 2-month old baby I’m sure was just the life she envisioned. The first business failed in 5-months. I didn’t sell a thing. No money, no funding, no business. Nothing. The next business was angel funded. It failed in nine months. One year in I was back at square one with some scar tissue and what Steve Blank calls “experience.”
Year two and three were much like year one. She filmed at least two Y Combinator application videos, one for Disrupt. All rejected. I failed to raise money so we bootstrapped, picking up development projects along the way to keep the dream alive.
All the ups and downs come home. I once saw a birthday card for a wife that showed a man just talking constantly about work in 10-different situations (dinner, driving, home, etc). That is how it feels to live with an entrepreneur. One night a deal closes, the next day your co-founder quits. Erica is the one constant. Never too high, never too low. Consistently supportive. “How did I get so lucky?”
We talk a lot about the psychology of an entrepreneur. What was so poorly wired in our heads to make us think we can create something new and then go do it? Well what about the person that has to live with that maniac? They get the worst part of the downs and none of the glory in the ups. But they stick with us, believe in us, continue to push us.
During my corporate America 4-year career I can count my 1am+ work nights on one hand. I’ve had 15 in the past month. Sound familiar? I’ve never heard Erica complain. We run Startup Grind from our garage and when 7pm rolls around and usually with about 5-minutes notice, Erica has magically cooked dinner for the team. This past week I absolutely needed her help. So she boarded a plane to San Diego with our two boys, dropped them off, boarded another plane and returned. After 24/7 work for a week she boarded a plane, flew to San Diego, picked them up, and returned home again with two children in tow.
It’s so rare that we stop and thank our spouses for all that they do. But let us take this Valentine’s Day to give a hug, a kiss, and a round of applause for our #1 co-founders, the engine under the hood, the person that believes in us when no one else cares. Here’s to the wives, husbands, girlfriends, boyfriends, and maybe pets that are by our side, because let’s be honest; none of this is possible without them. So happy Valentine’s Day sweetie. Sorry, I might have to work late tonight.