For years I’ve been wrestling with an issue. Am I not reaching my potential as a hacker/entrepreneur by not moving to the promised land of silicon valley? I was able to mitigate that internal crisis by working for the biggest startup in LA, MySpace, from 2007 to 2009. I was able to hit snooze on that alarm telling me to move. Working at MySpace really opened my eyes to the power of Technology and Social Media. I met awesome engineers who truly encouraged me to think big. After leaving MySpace, I realized that I wasn’t done learning, and I still felt this internal pull to emigrate to the most concentrated technological part of the earth. Alarm sounded, and I still hit snooze.
Things got more real again when i took up a job working for a startup based in SF. They did have an office in LA, and I found myself once again conflicted between the emotional attachment to a city where I grew up, where all my friends & family reside, versus the more ambitious road of immersing myself around the cream of the crop of my industry. I decided to stay in LA because the opportunities presented themselves career-wise to stay, but it still didn’t quite turn of the alarm; another snooze but for a lot longer time.
This rekindled once again when I found out Omar Hamoui was starting Churn Labs. Omar having decided to create two locations, I was once again presented with the options of being in norcal or socal, even better in Irvine, my residence and all-around favorite city to settle down in. I chose to move back to Irvine and help set up the Irvine office, which was a blast. We found an awesome location in Irvine, and set up a pretty cool office. Best of all, I got to see Omar daily and learn from him. Seemed like a dream situation for most people. But I kept feeling the call of the valley.
Last July, the Churn Labs team decided to do a heads down month-long hackathon out of our San Mateo office. I took my family up and settled in an apartment. We got so much done just being together. We hacked and hacked, and I just enjoyed the isolation. It was in that month that my family and I finally had the courage to do what we should have done long ago. I remember discussing it with fellow Churner and co-founder of the lab Mike Rowehl, an awesome hacker to learn from on a daily basis, and his experience in making the move several years back. It was a forgone conclusion at that point. We decided to relocate and join the legion of hackers in this part of the world.
Having said all that, I have special regards and high hopes for the LA startup community. Time will tell if my words are correct, but now that I’ve moved up here, I am happy with my decision. I am happy to be working with awesome team members on a daily basis. I’m happy that my social life aligns with where I want my career to go. I’m happy to not have to deal with traffic. I’m happy that random folks I run into in coffee shops are fellow geeks. Most of all, I’m happy that my fear of leaving socal, my comfort zone, was unwarranted. Breaking out of your comfort zone is a necessary exercise any entrepreneur should do. Doing it with my family of 2 kids isn’t easy. Leaving behind your family & friends isn’t easy. But at least now I don’t have to hit snooze on that same alarm clock that has been ringing for years. Rather I’ve enabled several new alarm clocks that I feel I won’t have to hit snooze on as long as the last.