Following the Yellow Brick Road

 

While its hard to believe, twelve years ago this month, I started Latigent- my first company, out of a two bedroom apartment in Olathe, KS.

Back then, if I mentioned to anyone that I had quit my fat corporate job to found a “startup”- most would politely say “oh, that’s nice” while giving me the ‘are you fucking crazy’ look.

Wow, how time flies…

We’re not in Kansas anymore

A few years later, I got hitched – and Amy and I decided to leave Kansas City for Chicago. Amy had opportunities with her modeling career; and it made sense for me to relocate Latigent to where most of our customers and my cofounder were.

We intended to try it out for a year…

Within the first six months: our bikes were stolen from our back porch, our apartment was broken into while we were back in KS for my grandmother’s funeral, and we had to replace the engine belts in Amy’s car because a rat got caught in them.

But still, Chicago captured us. The spirit, the opportunities, the vibe, great friends, Wrigley and the Cubs.

Chicago is also where I grew my chops as a startup guy.

When we sold Latigent to Cisco in 2007, part of the deal was that we had to move to Boston. Amy and I made a solemn vow to ourselves that we would return to Chicago in two years.

While 2 years turned into 6 1/2 years, we never lost sight of that plan.

That is until about 4 weeks ago…

Somewhere, Over the Rainbow(s)

“A strategic inflection point is a time in the life of business when its fundamentals are about to change. That change can mean an opportunity to rise to new heights. But it may just as likely signal the beginning of the end.” – Andy Grove, Only the Paranoid Survive

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I believe that Inflection Points are n-dimensional. Meaning that: people, persons, companies, governments, communities and market forces intersect to create equilibriums and inertia that are constantly in flux.

Each stakeholder in an ecosystem is both affecting the vectors and velocity of the curves while simultaneously being subject to the effects and actions of others.

Individual outcomes are sorted out at all points along the continuum, but the action you take, or don’t take, at the inflection is ultimately what decides whether your personal and collective curves move up-and-to-the-right (which is where you want them to go) or if the opportunity evaporates back into the ether.

Above all, timing and action matter.

The Emerald City?

Amy and I believe that, of all places, Kansas City is approaching several inflection points. Most interesting is the recent emergence of the startup community coupled with strategic economic development such as the Cisco Smart City investment.

In my opinion, the startup scene in KC has real potential and could emerge as a challenger to Austin, Chicago, Denver/Boulder, and NYC. But its still very much in a state of fragility and uncertainty.

What happens in next 24 months matters…

That being said, one can chose to sit in the balcony and pontificate, or you can suit-up and step onto the field.

The Wizard of (cr)Oz

In many respects, my own career is at it’s own inflection point. We’re making some critical decisions with the business and I’m emerging from what can only be described as the longest and most transformational 3 years of my life (but more on that later).

I’ve also reached a place in my career where the things that matter have changed.

Creating and contributing value to the world is more important than consuming it. Things like mentoring are as important as being mentored. ‘Starting and selling a company’ is no longer the only outcome, but rather my spirit wants to build something with purpose and meaning that contributes value at both global and local levels.

Tap 3 Times

In light of all this, Amy and I have decided to move our family and businesses to Kansas City for the next year…

A lot has changed in the nine years that we’ve been absent and we have a lot to learn. But, when we looked at what matters to us, and where we can make the biggest impact at this particular inflection- Kansas City just made sense.

We’ll miss Boston and Chicago, but we are excited about the prospects of KC.

As with each of our adventures, we’re looking at this move as an experiment and we’re leaving the door open to wherever the journey takes us next.

There’s No Place Like…

Oh, and funny enough, when we mention to people that we’re moving back to Kansas City, most politely say “oh, that’s nice” and give us that all too familiar look…

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