Over 5 years ago I had an idea—an idea that has shaped every minute of my life for those years. An idea that built a company, created 50 jobs, raised 11 million dollars and helped build friendships with amazing people, as well as business relationships with great companies. An idea that helped me travel the country, meet extraordinary people and gain a level of knowledge that no university or business school could ever offer. This idea ultimately became ShopIgniter.
Build, re-build, re-factor and then re-build again—the start-up software world can be a challenge, like climbing a mountain. But it has been an amazing adventure with a wonderful team, and I treasure the experiences I had with them. We have made it so far, climbed so high and built a product with so much potential, that I now feel that I can turn my trust to those teammates and allow them to forge ahead to the next checkpoint at the top. I will still hold a radio and guide, making sure to follow them and being there to help navigate so that things go as smooth as possible.
Since October, I have officially resigned as the Chief Product Officer of ShopIgniter, Inc. and removed myself from day-to-day operations. I still hold the most coveted title that always made sense for me—Founder. I will retain my board position and will be involved with the company to focus on our product strategy, in a limited capacity.
Why the change? Why leave a successful start-up that shows promise to grow and expand exponentially? For me, the answer is simple; for others, it might be difficult to understand. I am a Founder, and to be a Founder you must be, first and foremost, an entrepreneur. The one overriding characteristic of an entrepreneur is a passion to accomplish a goal. We are driven. We create, build, and dream. When you lose those abilities and hire others who are more focused in their position to share percentages of your total workload as you scale a business, you lose what you are, and who you are, in the process. Founders have a shelf life. I am past my due-date.
This change isn’t easy. You have to have total faith in the team you built, the executives you hired and the investors and board that you respect and admire to make it possible. An old boss once told me “everyone is replaceable.“ In the beginning stages of any start-up, the Founder feels that he or she has to do it all, in part because that is the way it has always been. But in order for the business to succeed, the Founder must be replaced by a team of amazing, talented people who are each focused on the tasks at which they excel.
The obvious question that I now get (for the people who knew about this or have figured it out) is “what’s next?”… well, I still have to prove to myself and to others that I can innovate and create new products anywhere. For me, challenges need to change with the times and I feel now that I need to solve something for an established, Fortune 50 company. One such company that I have become very close to as I worked with them at ShopIgniter in their successes in social commerce, community organization and eCommerce is Target. Starting tomorrow, I will be working closely with the entire executive team at Target on the next big thing in social commerce, built entirely internally at Target. There are more mountains to climb.