Founders Gotta Found

Michael Tavani, Co-founder of Scoutmob

Each of us gets a chance to only work on a few things in our life that truly make a difference

Companies that move the needle in helping society or maybe just making people smile. My time building Scoutmob was exactly that. I remember a conversation with Dave early on and he said we might work our whole careers and never replicate what we have at Scoutmob.

I’m extremely proud of what we built. At least 2-3 times a week for the last four years I’ve heard compliments about different parts of Scoutmob — the design, the voice, the brand, our email addresses and now the authentic goods we curate. I’m very grateful that I get to spend my days working on my passion. Makes it all worth pouring your heart, soul and long hours into something. A few times over the years I actually pinched myself on the drive into work in the morning. Seriously. Not cliche. I know what it feels like to spend my days doing things I’m not passionate about.

But, I also have the desire to explore, discover, and create new things

And so after 4.5 incredible years (plus two more starting SkyBlox), I’ll be taking a step back from my day to day role at Scoutmob. I’ll still be actively involved in the brand and product strategy and will continue to work closely with Dave and Calvin, as I always have. But I’ll be spending the majority of my time working on a few projects outside of Scoutmob. I kicked this off late last year and Dave and I have been planning this for the last few months and we agreed now is the best time f0r me to take this step. It’s been hard to find the right time. It was going to be hard whenever it happened.

Amazing how little these moustaches contributed to making us look tough

Why Now & What’s Next With Scoutmob?

Four and a half years ago, Scoutmob was two guys in a loft in Castleberry Hill pivoting from a stalled Wi-Fi business. Today, it does multimillion dollars in revenue, attracted some of the most respected investors in the industry, has acquired 2+ million users across the country with Shoppe revenue growing 24% month-over-month in 2013. There’s a clear path ahead for us to become a big ol’ business. And those are just the stats — the soft stuff is really what makes Scoutmob… one of the strongest startup brands in the country — strangers stopping me on the street in D.C. to make a point about my Scoutmob shirt, the hipster Apple employee nervously snickering like I’m Brad Pitt when I made a purchase and he saw my Scoutmob email address realizing he actually met a person that works for his absolute favorite app. The stories go on for days.

It’s hard to put into words what a great run the past four years have been. And even though last week was one of the most difficult ones in the history of the company, we are making the tough and grown-up decisions that will allow us to be around and profitable for a long, long time. Any company that changes priorities and reorganizes the team around a new growth business faces some challenges. But what remains in our Means Street HQ are some of the most talented people in the country on the engineering, design, analytics, customer experience, curation, sales and operations side.

My next move is caused by a sense of curiosity

As I tried to justify over the past few months how and why I could voluntarily step back from a growing and respected company that I founded, I stumbled upon a few quotes that explain where my head is at better than I could…

He perhaps needs a new challenge to focus on every few years or so. It’s just the way the ultra-competitive (Jim) Harbaugh is wired. — Sports Illustrated article

As with most entrepreneurs, the right time to build something is when you can’t stop thinking about it.

Scaling a company requires focus and execution. Starting a company requires imagination and being driven to distraction by life so much that your imagination becomes your reality. — Andy Dunn, Bonobos founder

While (Kevin) Rose gets his kicks from this most embryonic form of companies, he might not be so great at the long, monotonous haul between early, rapid development and a successful exit. The process can take years, and I don’t know many startup founders who have the patience for it (hence the Silicon Valley dictum “founders gotta found”). — Fast Company article

What’s Next for Me

When you find your calling, you follow it. All I ever want to do is start companies. So I’m excited about diving right back in. In fact, I’ll be working on a few projects simultaneously — and hatching them at Scoutmob HQ. My Evernote file on future projects is gigantic. The goal is to start a lab where I can quickly crank out new products — it’s so cheap to get to launch nowadays. Combine this with driving pre-demand before launching a project and there’s something disruptive I want to test.

But, I only want to invest my time in things I get. So, it’s all consumer companies for me. In the early days, startups need an unfair advantage in one area. For me, that’s design, brand and product.

Also, I think there’s a special moment in time right now for Atlanta and I’m excited about the types of companies talent-wise you can start here. We’ll do that with a few amazingly branded consumer startups. A few wins begins a movement.

In life, you will become known for doing what you do. That sounds obvious, but it’s profound. If you want to be known as someone who does a particular thing, then you must start doing that thing immediately. Don’t wait. There is no other way. It probably won’t make you money at first, but do it anyway. Work nights. Work weekends. Sleep less. Whatever you have to do. If you’re lucky enough to know what brings you bliss, then do that thing at once. If you do it well, and for long enough, the world will find ways to repay you. — Jonathan Harris

This is exactly what I did when I started my first company in the late summer of 2007. I never questioned it for a second because starting companies just felt so right for me. And now I’m known as the Co-founder of Scoutmob. Amazing.

Drop me a note

I’ll be talking through design-led consumer startups, Atlanta and my future projects a lot over the next few weeks. If you’d like to grab coffee and talk shop, hit me up via email or @tavani and also sign up here. As my Dad always tells me: In bocca al lupo!

Early Scoutmob mockups — Fall 2009
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