the mistakes, errors, oversights, misconceptions, fallacies and delusions i’ve had in my life have been the direct result of my behaviors, my decisions and my responses – no one else. simple.
as a risk taker, entrepreneur and go-getter, i’m very vulnerable to the consequences of “learning as i go”. as a result, i’ve crashed and burned, i’ve failed, i’ve lost, i’ve won and succeeded. no matter what, i push past the thought of something and straight into reality of something.
i corrected some mistakes and behaviors after the first occurrence, other mistakes and behaviors have taken me much longer to confront, admit, overcome and correct.
my mess is my message and my failures are just as valuable to me as my successes.
i know that people are easily aroused by one-sided, sensationalized headlines so here i chronicle a handful of my messes via my own introspection.
as long as i’m alive, i’ll continue to update this list…
the idea: to create a usb, rechargeable AA battery!
the gems: i had a decent lithium ion formulation and great packaging. i wanted to place this battery inside of brands that are earth conscious and have earth conscious customers. places like wholefoods, trader joes and target.
the lemon: the usb rechargeable battery has been out in china for like 7 years already. i needed an investor however, was timid to pitch because hypervolt is cash forward and high risk investment.
the result: i made some perfectly working prototypes, packaging and website
lesson learned: every idea doesn’t have to become a “thing”
the idea: to build the first comprehensive 3 or 5 day food, water, sanitary and shelter supply – less lethal, self-defense weapon system.
the gems: i have the training, know the gear and i know how people think
the lemon: i didn’t invest the proper time to drive and push the product. i think i was more interested in the challenge of building the system than building a company around it.
the result: i keep enough on stock to ship the 1 or 2 orders i get a year
lesson learned: don’t half ass it. do it all the way or don’t.
the idea: to rent my military truck to production companies
the gems: i designed a very unique M925A2 that was featured in “call of duty black ops”
the lemon: the truck finally broke and the repairs exceeded the value of the truck – so i purged it.
the result: eh, its a good gig. not sure if i want to do this 100%
lesson learned: no risk, tried it with little effort and it worked, i learned how it really works and may try again with a small fleet.
the idea: to become the brand manager for a nfl super star and extend his brand and vision beyond the field.
the gems: kelvin took a chance on me – a person that never worked with a professional athlete in this capacity.
the lemon: i didn’t take the time to truly understand his core values and how those values aligned to off-field business ventures.
the result: kelvin terminated my services and i lost my opportunity to work with him and his other team mates.
lesson learned: you must dig deep with your clients to truly understand how their personal values cascade into how they run their business/brand. also, if you’re new to a segment of business and someone gives you a chance – get smart, hire a mentor and pay close attention.
the idea: ion360, my IT firm to provide it services to kipp indianapolis.
the gems: i was awarded a maintenance contract with the school and serviced the school for one year.
the lemon: kipp did not renew its contract with ion360 based on cited budget constraints. kipp indianapolis decided to invoke a law suit against almost 18 months after we concluded our relationship. the filing claims ion360 promised “responsive service and rapid resolution” to technology issues and problems, along with 24/7 support, but did not deliver. yes, they decided i didn’t deliver 24/7 support, almost 18 months after services amicably concluded…
the result: the lawsuit was withdrawn. myself or ion360 were not found guilty of any allegations expressed in the lawsuit.
lesson learned: you must have tightly constructed contracts and always document everything! invoke terms and time limits on post termination clauses.
the idea: create a k-8 charter school to provide indigent students access to robots, wind turbines, apple technology and a thematic curriculum
the gem: the school was launched with everything i built it for!
the lemon: someone i entrusted expressed to the board that i defrauded the school out of funds. the allegation came about whilst i was conveniently out of the country for almost 2 weeks. when i arrived back in the u.s., i was on the news, and was told never to step foot back on school property. i never had the opportunity to defend myself nor was an objective investigation rendered.
the result: of course, it was established (via arbitration) that no such “fraud” occurred and i further left the proceedings net positive. even though proof was evident, i was removed from management of the school and essentially “erased” as co-founder.
lesson learned: invest in a legal team that will establish a corporate structure to protect founding interests, deeply research the team you build with and create a solid culture. be clear on revenue allocations, capital expenditures and always use the best fiduciary management practices.
the idea: to create the first web based, cloud hosted, subscription based sis (student information system) that aggregated student data, educator data and operational data
the gem: i got an investor!
the lemon: i contracted with my long time “friend” to write the software. he never wrote the software and he netted approximately $40k of my investment funds.
the result: i had to pay back the investor to avoid being sued. the software never launched and my “friend” relocated to costa rica at the time. i was also accused of orchestration the bad investment even though i was left high and dry.
lesson learned: even when working with friends, you still need contracts! establish payment and project milestones as well as build in contingency and exit strategies. use weighted charges back and incentive clauses for missed/completed deadlines by vendors.
the idea: to offer politicians interactive kiosk platforms that could be distributed at campaign sites to collect constituent data, input and donations.
the gem: i was able to build a prototype
the lemon: my idea was not 100% developed nor did i have any political relationships to leverage.
the result: never launched.
lesson learned: take your time and plan! research, plan, research and plan more! establish relationships within your target market.
the idea: to open a retail shipping store that offered design services.
the gem: i was able to successfully open two of these stores.
the lemon: i was self-funded (no investors) and i didn’t entertain a full fiscal cycle on the first store before i opened the second.
the result: i ran out of money and closed them both.
lesson learned: build detailed financial models with contingency and exit strategies. slow your damn roll!
the idea: to place advertising-based programming on monitors within indianapolis city buses.
the gems: i got a placement contract with indygo and had agreements with clearchannel. i designed the prototype and afforded to fit two gm hybrid buses.
the lemon: i was arrogant with my approach and thought my idea was the most brilliant idea ever however, it was deemed “stupid” by vc’s in 2004. never got funded.
the result: never made it out of prototype, testing phase.
lesson learned: you have to build a team! you cannot do everything yourself. secure financing/investments before engaging the business strategy. you cannot run a business on hope and a wish or arrogance!