Photograph by: https://unsplash.com/@jonasjacobsson
TrustyTrunks is not the first company I have started. I spent most of my college marketing class time thinking up entrepreneurial ideas. I never pursued any of those, but some are still knocking about my brain. The early 90’s were the early days of my career. We had two IBM personal computers which my accounting department shared. My boss chastised me if I wrote my own letters on the PC, insisting that I use our shared secretary. I literally had to have a Lotus spreadsheet running, then quickly pull up WordPerfect and write my letters when he wasn’t watching me. Maybe you remember those days, or maybe you are like me and have always had new product ideas, you’re just not old like me.
Back to the 90’s. As a single person no longer at school, surrounded by eligible bachelors in my age group, my first real stab at starting a company was driven by self-interest. I had an idea to somehow get people to take a personality survey on a computer, then my company would present suitable matches performed by the computer. With mutual consent, my company would share contact information, i.e. a land line number. Remember, these were the days before normal people had email addresses and cell phones. Great idea, right!?
I found a developer via the VP of IT where I worked. It seemed like he would know professional developers, and his recommendation had great credentials. Plus, his last name was Starbuck, which was no relation to the awesome new coffee company, but I still thought it was a really, cool name. Since the internet wasn’t yet a thing, his solution was to use a billboard or chat room. I knew nothing about software development, so it sounded good to me. Yes, it would mostly be used by the nerdy crowd, but those were the guys I liked, and I thought there would plenty of them to get me launched. I never found out.
I bought my developer the $3,000 computer he selected (in 90’s dollars, remember) and expensive books about how to start a bulletin board and manage chat rooms. He bought a new game called Myst that was all the rage. And that is what he spent all his time doing, with my $3,000 computer located at his house. One day I just took the computer home with me and thought about getting an AOL dial up account. I never got the account, because I didn’t know anyone else that had email.
My second big entrepreneurial attempt was also a total flop, but that is another story 😊
Gem of wisdom: Fully research, vet and select your key partners and service providers. Create a trial period in your mind and bail before you spend a lot of your money based on the stated needs of a partner.