The past 8 years have been the most invigorating and exciting of my life. You were my first city after escaping the suburbs of central Pennsylvania to attend Northeastern. We were together for the wild rides of the Red Sox playoff runs in 2003, 2004 and 2007 and all the other championships that have made this the city of champions that such a rabid sports town deserves. Many of my favorite memories with friends involve Boston sports playoff games. You’ve also been a big part of my life’s ups and downs. Nothing calms my mind better than a walk down Boylston Street on a busy day or a quiet night of reflection by the Christian Science Center reflecting pool.
When I walked onto Northeastern’s campus for the first time, I knew it was where I’d spend the next 5 years. After graduation, I still felt a strong connection as I excitedly got my start at E Ink. Later, your startup community welcomed me thanks to the amazing DartBoston community and helped shape me into the person I am today: better, faster, smarter, stronger.
All of this is what makes what I’m about to say so hard.
From almost the beginning of my time here, I’ve known I wanted to be an entrepreneur more than anything else in the world; it was a presentation by one of your leaders, Russ Wilcox, when I was a freshman that convinced me of this path. It was later other entrepreneurs that helped me get my start and make me who I am today: from Tim Rowe and Scott Kirsner helping encourage me to start Greenhorn Connect to John Prendergast giving me my first job in the ecosystem as a customer development intern to Laura Fitton being the one person willing to give me a shot at a full time job. Countless others have helped along the way as I’ve needed advice, friendship and a helping hand.
I left oneforty in April 2011 to finally build the great company I’ve always dreamed of. I wanted to take all the lessons I’ve learned and build the next great anchor company here. Unfortunately, despite trying many different ways to get a company started, nothing has worked.
While I struggled to find the cofounder for my dream company for a multitude of reasons, I was equally failing at finding the right startup idea. Many have told me it’s a spiritual quest; the right idea will grab you and you’ll just “know.” I know they’re right. That’s how Greenhorn Connect happened, but it doesn’t make the pursuit any easier.
As I continued my quest, I felt I had to start expanding my efforts. That’s why in December, I took a trip to visit your brother out west, San Francisco. I needed to spend some time away from you to gain perspective and see if the next step could actually be anywhere but here.
I thought I’d never take another job after oneforty. I’m an entrepreneur at heart and felt like my time was now. But after getting perspective out West and having the right person say, “why don’t you come work for me?” I realized I had the perfect opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
There are certain people in the startup world I’ve grown to admire greatly. They’re all on their way to, or already have built great companies. They’re thoughtful leaders with big visions. They understand the pay it forward mentality. And when one of them not only offers you the opportunity to join their team, but in an ideal role, where you get to work directly with them and the company is still at a small enough stage to your liking, you have a too-good-to-pass-on opportunity.
In this perfect storm, the leader is Hiten Shah, the company is KISSmetrics, and my role is Product Manager with the responsibilities to make them a great customer-focused, lean startup with a product their customers love. I’m both punching above my weight class and bringing all of my skills to the table for this role. I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunities and challenges ahead. At the same time, it hurts greatly to leave Boston to join this San Francisco-based company.
After all the memories, all the great friends inside and out of the startup community and all I’ve built here, I know it’s hard to believe I can pack my bags and leave, but I know this is the next step I must take. It is far from easy, but a move that makes sense as I work to get closer to my dream of building an achor company.
Your first question is probably, “What happens to Greenhorn Connect?” Do not worry. Greenhorn Connect is in *great* hands with Paul Hlatky and Pardees Safizadeh. They are two of the best young people I’ve met in Boston and I’m honored they’ve accepted the ongoing challenge of keeping Greenhorn Connect serving the Boston startup community. I’ve been working with Paul for months to prepare him to be my successor and I know that he is not only up to the task, but will take Greenhorn Connect to new heights. He was the driving force behind the Boston Tech Talent Fair and the buses that brought students to #RubyRiot. This is just the beginning of what he can and will do.
While I’ll be handing the reigns to Paul and moving out West, know that Boston and my many friends, mentors and colleagues will not be forgotten. Technology is folding space and time which means that Twitter, Skype and the occasional flight will still keep us connected. I care so much about our startup community and all the friendships I’ve made along the way, I can’t imagine just forgetting about it. I’m still planning events in the community like RamenCamp in May and I wouldn’t miss the unConference for anything. I hope to be a bridge between my new home and those here in Boston.
This is the beginning of an exciting and scary new adventure for me and the Greenhorn Connect team. I hope I can count on your support as I set out on my new journey, and more importantly, that you’ll help Paul and Pardees succeed in having Greenhorn Connect continue to support the Boston startup ecosystem.