I had to sacrifice time with my premature twins to start my business
The pursuit of my passion started with a conscious choice. In January 2011 I decided to turn down an interview for a marketing job with a large company in order to be what I always knew I was supposed to be: an entrepreneur.
I had a plan to start a consulting business, which I knew was not a long-term solution, but I figured if I took the first step, and were patient, the right opportunity would present itself.
And boy did it ever!
In September 2011 my wife called me upstairs to watch an episode of an interior design show on HGTV in which they were covering an entire basement wall with large, beautiful photo collages. That was my "aha moment." The clouds parted and the angels sang.
It was the coolest thing I'd ever seen, but there was no way for me to make one myself.
That's when I charged head-first down the path of making the world's first website to let you turn photos into large collages on removable wallpaper: WeMontage.com.
Here's an excerpt from the HGTV episode:
Like so many entrepreneurs before me, I threw caution to the wind and spent my last $35,000 to build the website for my new business. What I didn't know about building software is you can build it fast, inexpensively or really well. But you only get to pick two.
I had Champagne taste on a PBR tall boy budget, so I opted for really well and inexpensive, which meant the project that was supposed to only take three months took a whole year; I was not prepared for this financially and it was really painful.
When the end of 2012 came, I was out of cash and working for $10 per hour in the mall and hoping to get into a tech startup accelerator, which was my best hope to credibly and effectively launch my business.
My wife was also pregnant with twins.
Opportunity meets emergency
I got into the accelerator. Yay!
But we had to do an emergency C-section to deliver the twins three months prematurely, the day before I was to start the accelerator program, which was two hours away by car.
The twins weighed two pounds each and my son could literally fit in my hand. Their birth was extremely traumatic for me. I decided I wasn't going to leave my family in the hospital with my son fighting for his life. But I knew if I didn't go to the accelerator, WeMontage was most likely not going to happen.
My wife insisted I go because she said the family needed WeMontage to succeed. How many women would make that choice under those circumstances? Not many, I suppose. And I'm eternally thankful to my wife.
Handling the stress of it all
While at the accelerator, I came home on the weekends and my wife and I spent the whole time in the NICU visiting the twins. I cried every day for two months and woke up every night at 2am and could never get back to sleep.
I was under immense pressure to build a website that worked well enough in three months to present at demo day and raise $250,000 from investors. The stress was made worse because of a talented software developer on my team who had "personal demons" and was very unreliable.
Somehow, I got it all done and raised the capital.
Thankfully, the twins finally came home from the NICU, my daughter after six weeks and my son after 10 weeks (on oxygen support), and they're doing great now.
Pursuing your passion
I'm willing to sacrifice it all to pursue my passion, as long as it doesn't adversely affect my family. I couldn't do it though without the love and support of my wife, Ayana.
It's not easy to live a life of passion and purpose, but if you have a dream, you can do it.
And always remember this Chinese Proverb: "The temptation to quit will be greatest just before you are about to succeed."
P.S., Here's a pic from Thaddeus and Zoe's 1-year-old photo shoot.
Image: Lauren Kren
Header image: Beth DesJardin/Trove Photography
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