Friday 31st March 2017 was the last full time day for the all of team at Pollenizer including myself and Phil. We marked the occasion with two events.
THE LAST POLLENIZER XPOLL
At the last ever XPoll, Phil shared a presentation; ‘Never stop eating your own dogfood. And it’s just fine to fail.’ He gave a brief insight from our end of the line meeting and the decision that followed for us to shut down operations. Phil had introduced the concept of a quarterly end of line meeting back in 2009, when he shared a blog post, here’s what he wrote:
“Have a meeting once per quarter and put this proposition to the team. It’s not about being negative. It powerfully shakes us out of that obsession we can get about our products. The obsession that keeps us going when the going gets tough. The obsession with our product that makes something out of nothing. It’s a good obsession to have. Evan Williams had to have it to get an idea as crazy as Twitter to where it is today. But it’s healthy, just 4 times a year to step back and be tough. Maybe it just isn’t going to work and we are going to waste another year and lots of money getting there.
More often, the result of these discussions isn’t to shut down operations. It is the discovery of the tight focus required for the things that must be done to succeed and the things which we are wasting our time on.”
It’s a valuable lesson and although it’s something we didn’t do quite as regularly as quarterly. We did however, quite often have that candid conversation and until late last year the decision was always to realign focus and continue. I’d highly recommend all startup founders adopt this discipline in your business, maybe even adding it to your board meeting agenda so you don’t overlook it.
END OF AN ERA DRINKS
The second event of the day took us to the Grace Hotel in Sydney. Back to the beginning of where Pollenizer really began at Silicon Beach drinks. We felt it was an appropriate place to raise a glass to toast all of the great things that Pollenizer has achieved over the last 9 years. It was such a wonderful night, with a room full of such incredible people, all of whom have contributed to Pollenizer in many ways. There were of course a large number of people, unavoidably missing, especially Mick.
In the space of 9 years, Pollenizer has given work to more than 150 people as employees or contractors. On top of that, many people co-founded startups with us, many have advised or provided services to us. And a lot of people invested in us or our portfolio of startups. I don’t have the stats for the total number overall, it is significant and something Phil and Mick should be incredibly proud of. It was wonderful to catch up with so many of you, who were able to make in person. And to raise a glass to all the great things that Pollenizer has achieved because of us all.
On Friday night I found myself giving an impromptu speech as Phil insisted I say a few words. I was a tiny bit emotional and I don’t recall actually what I said. For those who know me well, I can wing it and find appropriate words when put on the spot as I did at the Grace hotel. However the end of Pollenizer is huge and given that a lot of people weren’t able to make the occasion I wanted to write a bigger thank you than the one I gave on Friday night, especially for those that weren’t in the room for whatever reason.
First and foremost of course my thanks and congratulations go to the founders, Phil and Mick. Pollenizer has been a journey that no-one could have prepared me for, nor one that I would ever have dreamt I’d experience. Here’s just a few of the amazing things I’ve done thanks to Pollenizer and the two of you:
- Company Secretary to more than 25 startups.
- Mentor to more than 40 startup founders.
- Helped hire and onboard over 100 people, inspiring and motivating many to find self confidence and work life balance when things got tough as they invariably did.
- Lead or supported due diligence and investor relations raising over $10m across more than 20 startups.
- Lead projects to sell company assets and company shares.
- Shutdown failed companies.
- In the early years, bookkeeper to more than 30 startups including the Pollenizer group.
I’ve learned and grown so much and I will be eternally grateful to you both for the opportunities that I’ve had.
I am so incredibly grateful to my dear friend Nicky, who introduced Phil & I together over dinner in her home more than 9 years ago back in 2008.
I have to individually shout out a few thanks;
Firstly Phil Morle, without doubt you have backed me over and over again. Pushing me to be bigger, allowing and encouraging me to believe in myself. The trusted relationship we have built over the last 9 years is extremely rare and one that I am truly grateful for.
Mick Liubinskas, for taking the leap of faith and getting comfortable to give me autonomy to build the backbone of the business. I can still remember how you grilled me sitting at Phil’s kitchen table the first time we met!
Everyone who worked with me in the Polly FinOps team, each of you contributed massively and were a big part to the amazing experience that, I personally have gained. In particular, shouting out 2 of the team who both each dedicated 5 years to Pollenizer, it’s people and the Australian tech space. Bree Clare, who shadowed me in all of many things in my the list of experience above. Bree was an amazing part of the Pollenizer team, she just gets people and especially me! She knows when to challenge and when you #JFDI. And Nicola Farrell, who knows everyone and everything in the startups ecosystem and having worked with a large number of Pollenizer corporate clients, sees opportunity in ideas and people and will continue to be a massive connector between the two.
Tony Faure, who motivated and supported me to continually become something bigger than when I first started out.
To such an awesome alumni across Australia, India and SEA. Far too many people to name, but each and everyone of you gave me countless learning that has stayed with me and compounded to make me the person I am today.
To the Pollenizer investors, all the founders and employees of the portfolio co’s over the years. My learnings from you all have been invaluable.
To my mentors, Michael Derin and Dan Atkin. Without you guys I would have been lost on many occasions.
THANK YOU TO YOU ALL
So what’s next?
For a handful of us, there is a small amount of part time work to be done to the end of June, while we wrap up the operating business and prepare a report for our stakeholders to explain how we intend to maximise portfolio return.
As for me personally, I’ll remain a director and co sec of the Pollenizer group, helping to manage the portfolio. Who knows what else is in store. I intend to catch my breathe, explore new paths and search for a way to continue to have impact and add value to the startup scene. I may also, just write that book of lessons learned I’ve so often talked about.