A shift in focus
Veritonic has been an exciting, challenging, and more than anything fun part of my life for the past eight years.
I'm extremely proud of what we've built through that time -- and I don't just mean the many different technical features -- but also the team and the business as a whole.
Honestly it's just been an amazing journey, I've learned a ton from everyone I've worked with (our investors, our clients, and of course our entire staff), and I can't thank them all enough.
I thought when I joined Veritonic it would be about a four year journey for me.
It's taken a little longer than I originally planned, but in the last year -- and even more specifically the past few months -- I do feel like the business has finally rounded the corner.
I believe the product, the team, and the business have now reached a point where it can (and will continue to) thrive and evolve without me. That I would now provide more value as a fan, an advisor and an investor than I would to continue as a day-to-day, build-from-scratch, CTO.
So, as of today, I'm transitioning out of the day-to-day workings of Veritonic (I'll remain an avid fan, and continue to be availble for them and the team as needed -- though honestly the've got this).
So what will I be doing instead? What's next for me?
Well through the past couple of years (as we've been building towards this moment) I've thought a lot about that.
In addition to having built and launched a ton of different web services, games, apps, and other products, I have also successfully launched both bootstrapped and venture backed companies (and experienced one failure). That list includes:
1. Falicon Programming Inc. - Founder. Falicon Programming Inc was a consulting firm I did all my freelance and side projects through for almost 20 years. It was 100% bootstrapped and what I call feast & famine profitable (meaning when I took paid work, it was almost all profit). I eventually closed the business for focus & tax reasons (it was C corp that really should have been an LLC).
2. Statsfeed - Founder. Statsfeed was a SaaS based web service before either of those terms were coined. It provided statistics that powered many of the early fantasy sports systems. And was also 100% bootstrapped and profits grew into a low 6 figure ARR. I eventually closed it for focus & scale reasons (I didn’t want to fight the potential legal battle over rights to statistics with the various pro leagues; BTW someone else did eventually fight and win that battle).
3. Digital Mechanical/Know About It (failed) - Founder. Know About It was a personal recommendation engine built on content passing through your social feeds. It had good initial user traction but failed to acquire venture backing b/c we failed to find viable revenue model. We closed for lack of revenue model & growing expenses.
4. PubGears - Co-founder/CTO. Pubgears provided programatic display advertising. It was basically header bidding before the term was coined. We raised a very small amount of venture backing (less than 1 million), were profitable, and eventually ended by being acquired by NextTag.
5. Veritonic - Co-founder/CTO. Veritonic is an audio intelligence platform. It’s venture backed by a number of top tier VC including Greycroft, Newark Venture Partners, Lerer Hippeau, and Lavrock Ventures (and many other great investors I don’t have room to mention). Veritonic is also currently in hyper-growth mode and focused on scaling to meet the demand!
6. Dig Down Labs - Founder. Dig Down labs is the LLC I've been building/releasing my various side projects under since 2014 (basically what Falicon Programming should have been from the start).
And through all of that, the core thing that continues to excite me even today, is the early stage chaos. The helping people build something out of nothing.
And if I'm being totally honest, the core reason I spent the past 11 years helping build PubGears and then Veritonic was the idea that I would use the momentum from those efforts to be in a great position to focus on building my own company -- doing my own thing.
(In many ways I've been standing up on that high dive, thinking about it, recovering from the failure of Digital Mechanical for almost 11 years now.)
So, with that in mind, I decided it was time to just do the dive. To finally focus on the evolution of my own thing, Dig Down Labs.
Dig Down Labs will coach, build, & invest in startups.
The initial target customer I have in mind is a first time founder who has raised less than 1 million, either doesn't have a technical co-founder or has a 1st time technical co-founder open to mentorship, and needs to start iterating on their product (prototypes/MVPs), making solid long term technical decisions that are good for the business, and potentially putting together an in-house technical team (including positions like a permanent CTO).
The popular term being thrown around these days is "Fractional CTO" or "CTO as a Service", but I like to think of it more as being a player-coach because we'll actually get our hands dirty with code.
And beyond anything else, we're focused on putting our clients in the best possible position to win.
That means we'll help our clients understand and make strong technical decisions towards their long term vision, to actually start building out their technology, and to help ensure they are adding people with the proper skills & experience to the technical team (technical interviews/vetting).
In addition to our coaching service, we are also building a few bootstrapped products of our own.
Currently that list includes fuzzypop.com (an automated system for staying on track and accountable to your short term goals; it also simplifies your monthly investor update tasks), halfbite.com (a simple system for newsletter writers/bloggers to collect and share links with their readers) and draftwizard.com (a service to help you market your content across your social media accounts).
And I'm sure we'll be building others as we encounter other interesting problems in our own world and throughout the process of helping our clients.
So if you're in our target customer group -- or you know someone who might be -- we would love to chat and see if we can't figure out a way to help you because…
We're open for business!