Most endings are difficult. Some not so much. I suppose, when the thing you have to let pass is something you’ve given part of your life to, its easy to believe that it’s the blood, sweat and tears you’ve put in that makes it hard to let go.
Not so. Sometimes it’s the things you can and cannot control that determine what you do, where you go next.
Heidi and I were dreamers. Still are. When we founded Storygami together in 2013, we did so with nothing but mad dreams and guts. In our previous careers as documentary filmmakers, we spent much of our working lives in post-conflict zones attempting to tell complex human rights narratives with online video.
The frustration we felt as storytellers, and the constraints we found within the medium of video, had us explore technologies that could help us change video for the better. It’s an origin that is, in a sense, as universal as any other founder story: we were building something we wanted to exist in the world.
We went on to build out those dreams into a good product, a paid user-base and a great team. We raised angel money, graduated from one of Silicon Valley’s top accelerators 500 Startups, and we became better founders for it. But I’ve always maintained that growth as a founder arrives in understanding what you can and cannot control.
Over the years as we tried, and tried again, to usher in what we felt was vitally important: a new way for media companies and video makers to add context to the videos they produced. Our message resonated with many and we had a lot of people pay. But sadly not enough could, especially in a climate where video was shifting into social-media silos and as the Internet more broadly became less open and independent.
There are some things you can control. Some things you cannot. It’s the difference between the two that allows any founder to call time on something they believe in. Today we’re calling time — at least on this iteration — of Storygami. The last five years have been a one intense trip. We’re grateful for every second we had the privilege to do what we loved.
The level truth: the time, sweat and tears were entirely worth it. It takes a weird, zany kind of partnership, to make that work, but somehow it did. In no small part this is due to the belief and friendship of a few bright minds, broad shoulders and kind souls. The heroes we met along the way:
Thank you to all those who have backed us. All of our investors with a special thanks to our first investors Ravi and Anand. People who offered us vital support at different times on our journey, thank you Micah Baldwin, Daniel Fisher, Rodrigo Martinez, Steve Chen, Justin Kan, Sal Khadr. You’re words meant a lot. Marvin, Rob, Elizabeth, Tanya, Sean, Matt, Dave, Melissa and everyone else at 500Startups. Batch13 will always be family. Thank you to the gang at Virgin Media Pioneers for the countless opportunities as well as THINK, Plug and Play and the many others who supported us.
Finally, our team. Everyone who has ever worked alongside us, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Thank you for believing. Especially you four: Moncho, Guro, Sophie and Cecile. For your courage and hard work.
As we, as better founders, move on to our next projects we’d like to extend our deepest gratitude to all our users everywhere. Thank you. For a brief moment, we proved what could be possible.
We still believe in the importance of contextualised video and hope one day to pass the torch on from Maven. We’ll continue to back anyone who helps artists get paid for their content and helps make the Internet a better place for important conversations. If you’d like to keep in touch, you’ll find us in the links below.
Love, Heidi and Guy