First Exit

Tricia Steele
2 min readMay 9, 2017
https://www.flickr.com/photos/subarctic-o/8472905541/

Over the course of nine years, I’ve gotten to live a dream. My favorite days were ones where a factory tour for pictures of a paint line would be followed by one-on-one with an entrepreneur topped off with a technical planning session with a healthcare marketing and IT team. The life of a development agency is never the same from day to day.

I’ve sat across the table from millionaires demanding detailed analysis and mild-mannered moms ready to make a go on their passion project. I’ve pitched projects to CEOs, commissioners, churches, and everyone in between. As a believer in data-driven decisions, I’ve delighted in telling stories with numbers. We have lived and died by white board drawings.

Within the swell of new projects, launch dates, and sales hustle, we built a rhythm — weekly and daily checkins, nearly always on chat, show-and-tell Fridays, two day binge hack sessions when we needed a breakthrough. More than twenty people sat in a desk at some point or another (many built their own). Close to forty contractors and freelancers jumped in when needed.

We went from philosophy statement to 401(k)s in what feels like the blink of an eye. Although, of course, that path included its fair share of failed proposals, all nighters, fighting off competing offers for staff, and one customer that stiffed us ten grand.

Last month, I signed the purchase agreement on the brand which had built close to a 100 individual projects, created software that had been downloaded more than 200,000 times, and produced pages viewed by more than 2,000,000 visitors. Blink of an eye.

Now, I watch with the same pride as a mother seeing that baby you birthed dressing and feeding and navigating the world by herself: awe and wonder and gratitude. While much of the initial vision and energy and processes may have come from me, it has become clear how the team and customers have conspired to create a living thing that exists on its own.

There are plenty of notions of next steps to explore, but for now, hand me a tissue. I need to blink my eye.

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Tricia Steele

Lover of words, woods, math, science, and anything done with conviction. founder³, currently writing and teaching one intensely curious fourth grade boy.