This wasn’t going to be piece of cake, but I didn’t expect lemons either. I had left my Microsoft job in 2011, with some vague ideas and promises from pretend investors. For some reason, I believed that it would take just 2-3 months for me to raise some money and then all will roll. I had 3 months of money left in the bank with a wife and kid. 10 days post Microsoft we discovered we were expecting our 2nd kid. Something rolled for sure, but it was my head!
We didn’t have enough money to pay for COBRA (form of health insurance post-employment in USA) and we were stressed out about paying the upcoming childbirth medical bills. We did some calculations and opted COBRA for my wife; we opted to put myself and our 3 year old daughter on another cheaper insurance. As it turned out, we missed a few payments on COBRA and a notice was served that my pregnant wife no longer had any health insurance.
Now for the year 2011-12, if you lost a health insurance, no one would take a new customer with pre-existing conditions. We were looking at an additional $20,000 (conservatively) expense at least in the next few months. We never felt so helpless. I had no uncle to call up who could lend us a few dollars or a strong network or visibility in a community where we could ask for help. Friends at Microsoft were cheering my decision but very few really understood that we maybe in need of more than a pat on the back. Saying, it was very tough, would be an understatement !!!
To reduce distractions at home with a young kid, I co-rented a very small room with another person and used it as an office for a few months. This person was an executive in a startup working remotely (in my town), and was gracious enough to make my first investor intro who eventually invested and became lead investor. I think my investor gave the first check because he simply wanted to help me – he saw me going broke while trying to build something innovative. This investor (being an entrepreneur himself earlier in his life), understood what was going on in my life. That first $25K was a life saver for me, my family and the company. He reinvested in the company in the future and also helped me raise more from his network. I ended up raising about 1 million USD from the likes of 500 Startup Funds and top executives from Amazon, Facebook, Webex, CMU and others.
So that was the story of how my company 9slides was built.
At 9slides we’ve created a platform which allows users to easily add audio video narration to their presentation deck, so that they can communicate effectively with their audience. You can watch rich multimedia presentations on any device, any time, without downloading any software/app. However over a period of time, based on user feedback and adoption, we pivoted our messaging and have become an online learning solution.
Today, I am very happy to announce that we actually attracted a customer who acquired the company!
9slides just got acquired by a company based in Seattle, USA, called Limeade. Below is a Limeade CEO Henry posing for this photo op. He is a fighter too and I really admire what they have built at Limeade over the years. I am very excited to unfold my next chapter…