In the between the time of walking away from Passport2 and launching LocalsGuide I did some serious planning and research. Passport2 was a drill down on everything local about Ashland, Oregon and it had been from an outsiders perspective, meaning tourism. Now it was time to build the real Local’s Guide a guide which was from the insider perspective meaning hyperlocal.
I started researching domain names, looking at lots of different options, going back and forth trying to figure out what would best describe this next venture. LocalsGuide.com was available, but for $2000.00 usd. I thought about it for a day and then purchased it. I knew I could brand it and that it would stand strong. Every town needs a LocalsGuide and I knew just how to do it.
Now, if you ask me if I like working or if I like business I will tell you “No”. It’s down right ugly and dog eat dog out there. You get to see some ugly aspects of people in how they handle money, issues of jealousy, pride, fairness. These all get examined and played out in business. You give an inch they take a foot.
It’s not always bad… but you have to be smart. Unless you are absolutely lucky in the choices you make you typically are gonna have to go through some bumps and bruises before you really start to get into your groove. Until then the real trick is to settle in for the ride and be the last one standing.
Business takes it casualties and those casualties have occurred in the paths I have traveled. Sometimes I have paid sometimes others. These payments were made in lost money, lost time, hurt feelings, failed expectations, perhaps even betrayal some might have felt.
I love creation and the opportunity to take something from an idea to reality. I have always been an artist and this is why I work for myself and create. For sake of privacy at this period in time I will refrain from fully naming individuals out of respect, but I will talk about some of my experiences in this stage of my life because they were formative and it’s also important for me to disclose my experience as it happened to me.
So… immediately after walking away from Passport2, and let me say more about this cause I have mentioned it quite a bit. I walked away from this business, throwing my hands up in the air because I had given up any hope or confidence that the business could mature into any further success than what we had accomplished. We were in a stalemate of who would take ownership of and drive the company forward. I was done making any continued investment. I needed to respect the financial investment which had been made into the business by Jim the owner of the Stratford Inn and being unable to match it stepped out.
During this period of closure I had been in communication with a local corporate executive named Ben B. who was very interested in the Passport model. He had been showing the model around to a few of his buddies and taken a keen interest in learning more bout the project. I began speaking with him on the phone and developing a relationship.
This relationship continued after I had left Passport2 and I then spent some of the next four months in business discussion and planning with this individual and a few of his business partners. It was an interesting time of uncertainty and decision making. Very quickly… within about one month I had entirely re-invent myself with a new business, brand and service. I now had potential business investors who were very interested in my hyperlocal media model. I worked some long hours pulling all of this together and getting it off the ground. Ben watched and provided some limited feedback.
Ben eventually introduced me to his friend Stuart L, an East Coast executive who was also keen to join in on the project. It sounded exciting and… though I wasn’t going to get distracted from making this business a success, I needed to make a living and support my family. In one specific episode I remember a phone conversation I had with Stuart L. about the need for proper funding for the project to be successful.
“Shields, Do you know how much money I made last year?”
“I made three hundred thousand dollars… stop wasting my time.”
WOW…. what an idiot I thought – What type of person says something like this. There I was essentially broke… working like a maniac to launch a new startup business… and this guy insults me for my effort. He makes so much money but can’t even invest one cent to make my life just a bit easier.
I quickly learned that being a CEO of Comcast or Disney does not qualify anyone to be an entrepreneur. These guys are good at running the shop once it has been setup but not great at really having what it takes to move through the creative and survival elements of an early startup.
I quickly lost more my respect for Ben and Stuart and abruptly brought our business negotiations to an end by simply pulling the plug and walking away. LocalsGuide was mine. I was the sole financial investor.
Had cash been on the table it would have been a different story but as far as talk goes.
Well you know the saying.
Money Talks, Bullshit walks…
It wasn’t the best way to end the relationship. These guys had put in some time of their own and if Stuart was really making $300k per year… I guess he might have lost a couple of grand on this project in time…. Sorry Stuart 🙁
They were probably just as equally frustrated with me as well. I was quite off the cuff, young and impulsive. I knew what I wanted and I didn’t want to be distracted. This hyperlocal model for me was about so much more than just making money. It was about making and allowing people to create media in a totally new way… Community Powered Media.
I want to take a moment to acknowledge some of the folks now who worked beside me in the early days even if things might have ended on a bad note or came to an abrupt end. Kyle Stitch, Jamie Glass, Jay Newman, Curt Evans, Marick Kelly, Gwen Specicher, Maya. These guys all put in a shit load of time and energy to help me in making LocalsGuide a success. Kyle especially stood with me helping me launch issue one of LocalsGuide in November 2006, and then working with me for quite some time after that. This wasn’t easy work and I know not everyone got what they wanted out of the experience, and this is what I mean by business not being a fun thing.
People put in time and you want to be fair, treat them as friends, and reward everyone equally… and you do your best. Then at the end of the day the bills have your name on it. You’re the one with the giant debts, the risk and the responsibility. As a business owner you have to make those hard decisions which inevitably piss people off or break up friendships.
And So it goes… business is ugly… and we push forward!
This is just a small glimpse into the early days of LocalsGuide with more tales to tell, but we shall save that for another time.
More about the model of LocalGuide – HERE ((Coming SOON)))