Incidentally, before you ask – Interface3 as a business is doing fine. I’ve just decided to move on and do something else. Lots of people have asked why, and I thought it might be easier to explain through a blog post.
Burn Out and Re-evaluation
Everyone experiences burn out differently; for me, it felt like the final period of my PhD days again. The long hours, the guilt associated with taking any time off, the frustration that I wasn’t spending time doing the things that I loved doing. The worst thing about burn out is that it creeps up on you. It’s never just one thing; it’s the VAT return, and then the proposal, and then ‘this’ and ‘that’. Like quicksand, you don’t realise how deep you’re in until it’s too late.
By June 2014, I’d been thinking feeling low for a few months, and took my first holiday in 4.5 years to give myself the breathing space to re-evaluate.
When I came back, I got that dreaded phone call at 1am while in Manchester Airport that one of my close friends died in a car accident. It was all so sudden. She was gone within 24 hours.
When one of your peers passes away, it’s natural to re-evaluate your life. We all ruminated about what sort of impact that we wanted to make on the world before we left.
In the Startup Game, you have to know when to quit
September rolled round and it was clear that competition in the education apps market would get tougher. One of my most admired companies, WeeWorld, went into administration, and Moshi Monsters dropped 30 of their staff.
It just felt like the right time to change. The apps market was getting more competitive and as much as I loved Interface3 and Tigerface Games, it was time to take what I’ve learnt and find another opportunity to make a big impact.
I’m immensely proud of what we’ve achieved in the past few years at Tigerface Games. For a small self-funded startup in Edinburgh, we’ve tried hard to punch above our weight: we’ve won and been nominated for a number of international awards, sometimes alongside the big players like PBS KIDS. For instance, I recently found out that Sushi Scramble has been inducted into the Hall of International Mobile Gaming Awards. Our games will continue to be sold on the iOS and Android apps stores.
A startup is nothing without the team, and I couldn’t be more privileged to work with the most talented people I know. We’ve become good friends as well as great colleagues. The decision to wind down was particularly hard because I’m sad to break up our little well-gelled team.
What Next? Ginsberg.io
Since August 2013, I’ve been working a few days a week on Ginsberg.io, and I’ll be moving onto Ginsberg full time.
I’m super excited about what we can achieve at Ginsberg. Over the past 18 months, the team has gotten bigger, the vision has gotten even more ambitious and we’ve moved at a quickening pace. We went from nothing to Open Beta in 12 months. I’m delighted to find that mindfulness and mental wellbeing technologies are beginning to emerge as a market.
Running as a lean startup inside the Scottish Government gives us a unique position in the marketplace. As well as having the autonomy to make a brilliant mass-market product, we can run in a much more open manner. We’ll be open sourcing our SDKs, providing examples on issues like data privacy and being active in setting the formats for how mental wellbeing data is stored.
Our aim is to improve the mental wellbeing of the Scottish population (and hopefully on a global level too) through technology. That’s something that worth getting up for.
And after Ginsberg …?
After Ginsberg, the plan is to go travelling around the world for a while. If this year has taught me anything, is #YOLO.