Start-up post mortem v1

The hours and days after your start-up, your baby, is acquired are a natural time for reflection. This is my v1 and I expect I’ll realize I forgot important moments, or, god forbid, important people.

Deciding to leave a safe stable, salary guaranteed, life as a tenured professor is not a minor detail. It is the sort of thing that causes your parents to freak out. But from the moment it was on the table, my spouse was behind me, sometimes behind it more than I was. Without his unwavering, unconditional support, I wouldn’t have been a part of ScaleDown and for all of that, I must confess, that I struggle to summon the words of gratitude.

Starting a company with a friend. It is a scenario that the internet seems happy to characterize with oodles of horror stories. I considered Gary Bennett a friend before we started ScaleDown. That I consider him a better friend, one of my best friends, four years later must then be noted. And a testament to his willingness to ride this crazy wave with humor, discretion, patience and humor (it really is that important). I had deep admiration for Gary’s significant other before this adventure began, that she became a sage advisor and friend during our journey was one of ScaleDown’s many blessings.

Dori Steinberg is truly a woman of enormous faith. She worked her tail off as a scientist to build a successful research program and then put its future in the hands of industry – our company and our partners. Her courage and confidence in those decisions cannot be under appreciated and I will be forever grateful to her. Beyond that, her willingness to ask hard questions made me a better shepherd of the ScaleDown program.

Building a robust, evidence-based, behavioral science program is no minor undertaking as an academic researcher. Seeing that science become a successful company must be an incredible feeling. I am so proud to have been a part of that with Gary and Dori. And I must say, I am incredibly impressed that as ScaleDown’s reputation and scientific credibly grew, they both remained stellar scientists. I would not have had their poise or grace had a colleague at my institution taken my research, bastardized it and tried to  turn it into a competitor. But Gary and Dori have remained confident that quality science and execution will beat cheap imitations and I’m better for knowing both of them for it.

ScaleDown wouldn’t be what it is without the team that built it. We were fortunate to work with some of the best developers in Ben Block, Jeff Cohen and Colin Kuhn. Our product and commitment to our customers were better for Casey Sanli’s phenomenal efforts and willingness, as our first hire, to do whatever needed to be done.

Our customer support team in Angie, Felix and Jill along with the friends, colleagues and friends of friends who helped us build our product and platform were integral.

On a personal note, friends have a choice when you make a life course deviation in how to respond. They can ask hard, but necessary questions. They can provide genuine support or blow smoke. And along the way, when you start to doubt yourself, they can pick you up and help you ride the wave, or remind you of your doubts. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have an older brother and some very dear friends (Biz, Catherine, Jenny, Lauren, Maggie, Natalie, Shari, Theresa) that did everything right. Without them and the unwavering support of those above, I wouldn’t have started this adventure that I am so grateful for.

In addition, the Chicago healthcare start-up community provided me with a cushion against the lonely life of an entrepreneur, friendship, advice and a genuine belief that you don’t have to be on a coast to make a difference. Thank you to MATTER Chicago for creating that community.

I don’t regret the path we took for a second. We learned so much and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. As a kid, I watched my mother suffer through a job that was unfulfilling (and that would be rather timely in today’s news, but thats a story for another day) and I hope she’d be proud of my decision to pursue a dream, work hard to realize it and be joined by the best of the best.

ScaleDown is in great hands with a new owner who believes deeply in the value of daily weighing paired with personalized feedback. We were incredibly fortunate to find a team that used and loved our product and wants to take it to new levels – and has the resources to do things we never could.


V2: I would be remiss to not point out that Jeff, Ben and Colin all came to ScaleDown because I went and learned to code at the very first learn to code program in the country. Neal and Mike and team at the Starter School brought Jeff into my life and planted the seed in my mind that I could do this. People who seek to lift others up are unique and the Starter School community is full of them.