When to Walk Away From Your Startup and Move On

In Chapter 17 of 17 in his 2012 Capture Your Flag interview, leadership philosopher Bijoy Goswami answers "When Have You Had to Walk Away From Something Dear to Your Heart?"  Goswami shares the story of his first startup venture and coming to the decision to move on and pursue something else.  He recounts how he separated from his business partner and worked on a software company for several years before making the decision to take a new direction. 

Bijoy Goswami is a writer, teacher, and community leader based in Austin, Texas.  He develops learning models, including MRE, youPlusU, and Bootstrap, to help others live more meaningfully.  Previously, he co-founded Aviri Software after working at Trilogy Software.  Goswami graduated from Stanford University, where he studied Computer Science, Economics, and History. 


Erik Michielsen:  When have you had to walk away from something dear to your heart?

Bijoy Goswami:  You know, I would say my first venture, you know, that I worked on the start-up with this software that was meant to be a knowledge network that was wiring up knowledge networks, human knowledge networks things that evolved that had become Facebook and LinkedIn and things like that over the next few years and what happened there was I had – I started this project with a friend of mine who we’ve said we’re gonna go and do this venture together. 

We ended up doing the venture, getting all the people involved and then at some point we weren’t able to get the traction that we needed in the marketplace. It was early 2000, things like that and not only did the employees go but this buddy Bruce and I, Bruce said okay, I gotta move off on this thing and so I was like, what do you mean, we’re just going, we’re just getting going here, yeah we had. You know, I was like the knight in the Holy—in the Crusades, the just a flesh wound, you know and the Holy Grail. Comeback here where are you going and so I continued working on that for a few years actually as a one person software company and we had the software and I was working on the software and actually all the revenue that the company ever had as a software company I sold as a one person software, you know, company. 

But then it just kind of like, I just couldn’t keep it going, you know, and more than that I think other things started too, other projects started to emerge Bootstrap and Human Fabric and all these other things and so I had to say that’s gonna be put back on the shelf. And it wasn’t like, it wasn’t like – I don’t remember making that decision explicitly it just sort of evolved that way but it’s also like that just I don’t know what to do with that thing anymore. I'm not getting – I can’t do it by myself. I found that, you know, projects that I do myself don’t have enough momentum and I'm not getting enough help to continue it and I don’t, you know, so, all right I gotta let go of it, you know.