I loved my first startup. And like many first loves, it was a naive but a simple love. I poured myself into something that finally merged my professional and personal passions. But it was not meant to be.
I've had enough time and distance that I can say this without a pang of pain and sadness shooting through me.
Everyone says startups are hard and that the vast, vast majority fail. But until it happens to you, you think you'll escape the odds. You don't know, can't know, what all of this wisdom means until you're in the thick of it, trying to decide the fate of something that you love but is no longer the right thing for you.
papaya+post embodied everything M and I wished to create for the world. It had optimism and beauty and curiosity and heart. What it didn't have was a scaleable business model that made sense without thousands of marketing dollars artificially propping it up.
We tried everything, from partnerships with leading experts in the space to working with the amazing team at Tea Collection. But it was pretty apparent that while consumers loved what we were building, it just wasn't necessary or vital enough on a day to day basis that they kept coming back on a sustainable basis.
So that's when we finally decided that the right thing to do by it, and ourselves, would be to wind it down. Sure we could have continued it and perhaps it would have limped along. But it would have been such a sadder thing to see it die from neglect and negligence than from a difficult but true decision.
It's funny though… well, not funny, but remarkable, that when we would tell others of our decision, they called it brave or courageous.
It certainly didn't feel that way.
It felt like I was giving up on something that I was supposed to always fight for.
My house was filled with visual reminders of my failure – inventory, sketches, business plans, packaging… found in every corner of my home. Every day I wished that this wasn't the reality, because beyond the loss of the venture, I also lost my purpose, my direction, my north star.
Because if I had been wrong on this, how could I trust myself on anything new?
But what I realized what that I had learned an incredible amount in that year of actually being in the arena, my face marred by dust and sweat and blood, because I had tried valiantly.
It also made crystal clear of what I was looking for from my next venture. It's when I decided that it would need to involve something that was unequivocally something vital on a daily basis. Something that plagued people constantly and was never too far from conscious thought.
I spent some time trying to figure out what that might be and then in a crazy way, I sort of fell into my next venture without explicitly deciding that that was what it was going to be.
It's a story for another day, but suffice it to say it's grown and kept me occupied and has exciting, incredible potential.
But there are days and moments and times when I will be reminded of p+p. When I am filled with nostalgia and a longing for that first love.
Because it was truly a labour of love. With the very best person in the world beside me.
It's time to gently and lovingly close that box and move on. But I will always have a soft spot for that time, for the way we charged forward with less savvy but more blind trust and heart. When I found a fellow crazy and understood what true gratitude and loyalty meant.
Failure, as it turns out, is hard. Maybe because you feel like you let others down, maybe because you feel like you'll never be successful again.
But it's harder because it's lonely. It's isolating. It's even more confusing than running the damn thing in the first place.
You feel judged and like a pariah.
So I haven't been able to write about it or really process it fully until now. Instead I poured myself into this something else.
But it's time to face the facts. I loved fully and without reservation. And for a time, we created something that was loved back with equal fervour.
And while it was not meant to last, I wouldn't have changed one thing. I am wiser and more confident and more sure of what I am meant to do. But without p+p I wouldn't be able to do what I'm about to do.
So I have nothing but love and fondness for those days and months that we poured ourselves into this venture.
I may be moving on, but I know p+p will always linger in the way our best memories do – with affection for having existed and with gratitude for letting us go.