The problem we now faced was different. Our business hadn’t imploded, it just wasn’t sustainable without outside capital. Other companies pushing into the commercial market were raising $10-$40m. There was no way for us to compete so we had to make a decision. The board decided that they wanted to shift away from the commercial market and instead focus on government defense engineering services, planning to transition one of our contracts back into a program of record.
For me this was doubling down on a failed strategy that had inherent weakness. I can understand why they wanted to do it, but at that moment I had to ask myself the question of “Did I want to do it?”. I had run the company for 13 years. I did not believe in the next step. I knew it could be done, but would require tremendous sacrifice, have a limited chance of success, and still be subject to the government shutdown risk. My heart wasn’t in it. I had brought on a COO who had experience running that exact type of business. We had hired him to manage and grow that side of the business. I knew that in this next incarnation of the business, we would have to cut staff again, slim down to a skeleton crew, and slowly try to rebuild back. There wouldn’t be room for the entire management team. It was clear to me that it was my time to move on. The board agreed. On December 4, 2015, I stepped down.
The company went on, it pivoted, focused on defense services, and worked to rebuild the business. The last founder and the new CEO did it. They rebuilt again while being embattled on all sides. It wasn’t enough. Almost 2 years after I left, in the fall of 2017, the company lost the program that they had been going after. The board decided at that point that they would fold the company and file for bankruptcy.
For 15 years our company had made a go of it. It had grown and evolved multiple times. It had been completely wiped out and rebuilt 4 times. In that time, the company has injected millions of dollars into the local economy. Employed over a hundred people at various times. It was responsible for transforming unused parts of town, and was critical to establishing the start up scene in Gainesville.
We would not have gotten there without mentors, the community, friends and family. While this is a story of a company and the ideals of its founders, it was also the story of a community that wanted to grow and innovate and be part of the new economy.
There are so many people to thank. So many people who contributed in so many ways. I will never be able to thank everyone enough.