A Year in the Life of a Founder After Shutting Down His Startup

I don’t know if this has always been happening but I noticed this year that a lot of people were sharing a summary of 2013 on Facebook around New Years. They’re usually a little “braggy” but honestly, I don’t mind that at all. I’m happy to celebrate all the wonderful things my friends have done or experienced this year and don’t feel particularly envious or annoyed. We are all on different paths.

I very much enjoyed reading a recap of 2013 through my friends’ eyes  and decided it would be a good exercise to reflect back on the last 365 days myself.

As you might know, Ridejoy announced that it was no longer being supported – a decision that my cofounders and I made this spring, after months testing new ideas and soul-searching. It was a hard decision and marked the psychic end of my first startup.

But life goes on and I went on to have a wonderful year in 2013, which I shared on Facebook.

Jason Yue Shen 2014-01-02 01-12-46

Two people commented that my reflection could be worth sharing more broadly on my blog – perhaps to other founders who might be struggling or feeling the weight of failure and the world on their shoulders.

I’ve written in the past about how we can rebound from setbacks and find our groove again, but sometimes what we need is just a personal story. So here’s mine:

2013 was a massive year.

We came to the realization that Ridejoy didn’t have a future as a venture backed company, despite our best efforts and the love of 30+ thousand users.

I launched two paid offerings via my blog: a course on the science of behavior change [1] and a book called Win the War [2], both successes financially and in terms of personal pride in product quality.

On a whim, I applied for this fascinating program called the Presidential Innovation Fellowship and was surprised to actually land it [3]! Dropped everything and moved to Washington, D.C., where I worked with amazing people both inside the government and out [4]. Helped the world’s largest museum and research complex, the Smithsonian, advance its digitization and crowd sourced transcription efforts [5]. Learned a truckload about innovating within large organizations.

Learned enough Rails to build a complete web app, Rewardbox [6], that helps people build habits. And was the lead “developer” on my Smithsonian hackathon team [7].

Honed my skills and packaging to close $6k in consulting work as a content marketing consultant [8].

Let go of one relationship with a wonderful person, had fun dating casually and developing confidence in myself as an attractive and dateable guy, before entering a new, loving relationship.

Had amazing trips to Thailand, Burma, New York City, Comic-Con and Stanford for 5th year reunion.

Completed 11 of 12 fitness challenges (hit 28 pull-ups, 25 handstand push-ups, 6:30 mile time and unofficially broke a world record with Aztec Pushups) [9]

Made some wonderful new friends, rekindled old friendships.

There were not a lot of “down” moments per se but definitely a ton of “holy shit I have way too much going on” and far less sleep than I’d prefer. A lot of leaning on family and friends both old and new to help foster growth, have fun and make things happen.

Thank you for being a part of my amazing year. I hope I added more value than I earned and I’m so excited for 2014. Kicking it off with a 2 week trip to Peru starting tomorrow!


[1] Science of Behavior Change

[2] Link temporarily unavailable

[3] Presidential Innovation Fellowship

[4] Notes as an SF entrepreneur in DC

[5] Smithsonian Transcription Center

[6] Rewardbox

[7] Smithsonian Hackathon

[8] Content Marketing Consulting

[9] Aztec Pushups

Photo Credit: bubbo.etsy.com via Compfight cc

Please support this site by sharing:

Jason Shen

Jason is a tech entrepreneur and advocate for Asian American men. He's written extensively and spoken all over the world about how individuals and organizations develop their competitive advantage. Follow him at @jasonshen.

Latest posts by Jason Shen (see all)

Related Posts: