Thursday, February 15, 2007

How Companies Really Get Founded: The Birth of Tenuki

John and I officially founded Tenuki on Dec.1 but I never thought to mention it until today. It's a bit anti-climatic, founding day. The real story is how we got there.

John and I had thrown around the idea of starting a company since hanging out together at a friend's wedding in Mexico. I was at the end of a yearlong trip around the world, so I had about 100 bucks to my name. I was too cheap to get a hotel room at the five-star resort the wedding was at, so John let me sleep on the couch in his room. We really haven't spoken since high school so it was a really nice thing for him to do for me.

We pretty much spent the whole weekend talking about tech stuff, predictions, what sucked, what rocked. And music. And girls. We bonded. By the end, of the weekend, I was positive that I wanted to start a company with him.

At the time, he was happy with engineering gig at a games company, and I was flat broke, so nothing really happened. I went back to DC, and eventually got a job as an IT manager at a startup. About a year later, I had saved about 40 grand and was pounding my brain for a good idea for a company. It was October and I had already told my boss that I was going to leave on Nov. 1 to go start my own company. Then, out of the blue, John calls, we hadn't spoken in a year, and tells me that he's ready to start a company.

Things really do happen like that.

It took about a month to extricate myself from my job. I ended up doing contract work for my old company until the end of November. I flew out to San Francisco the last day of November and we founded the company the next day, December 1.

UPDATE: David Beisel from Masthead Ventures just posted about how he uses the founding story to evaluate entrepreneurs. So for all you curious VCs out there, I'd be happy to provide the sexy details I left out, like the big idea behind Tenuki, for instance. But only if you buy the coffee.