Technically those are student entities so they don’t count as startups, but they were my first exposure to leadership and building organizations from the ground up. I quickly realized that I was willing to endure gruesome hours just for the thrill of leading energetic teams around a common vision. As much as I appreciated my corporate internships, those didn’t make me jump out of bed every morning.
My first startup was later that year with Immosis, a VR/AR game studio turned consultancy that has created applications in training, gaming, healthcare, and education. I’m grateful for Immosis being my punching bag as I made a ton of mistakes with starting a company. Taking the company from a bunch of failed game/product experiments to a 6-figure consultancy within a year is still one of my proudest accomplishments to-date.
In fall 2018, we appeared on a radio show that was hosted by a retired police officer. When we let him try one of our VR games, he was taken aback by the sheer immersion of the tech. That’s when he vehemently insisted that we apply our expertise towards law enforcement training to help our first responders and communities go home at night.
After conducting feasibility research and taking home some competition wins, we decided to pursue SURVIVR full time. We’ve raised investor capital and are now proudly working with various police departments and the U.S. Air Force.
Startup life has profound highs and lows. Behind our successes are countless days of agonizing stress. Sometimes I question my own worth because I take our company so personally. But most people don’t see that dark side.
Because of this iceberg effect, I love documenting every aspect of running a startup—especially the negative ones that nobody talks about. While I believe that everyone deserves a chance to explore a startup, it doesn’t end up being a great fit for most (which is okay). But if someone’s insane enough to jump into the void despite that, then my hope is that they do so for the right reasons and with the right expectations.
As for me, I’m still hanging on. While the stress can be unbearable and startups only get tougher over time, I’ve stuck around long enough to know that I couldn’t be happier with this trajectory in my life.
Beyond operating startups, I enjoy giving back by serving as a mentor and guest lecturer at my university. I have also served as an investor at Mockingbird Ventures to appreciate the other side of the table. Finally, I tend to dabble in uncommon activities such as music performance, martial arts, sushi making, and Latin dancing. I haven’t had the bandwidth to stick with all of these, but my goal is to experience our world in as many ways as possible.