My Graduation from Zinch

5/15/11

It’s a really strange feeling writing this post. It’s both sad and exciting.

tl;dr: I’m leaving day to day involvement at Zinch to start a new company. I will continue to be based out of San Francisco.

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I lasted one year at Princeton. So in many ways, Zinch has been my schooling. What a unique education it’s been. It was a five-year program — but I feel 20+ years wiser, smarter, and more experienced. It was the world’s most effective trade school: I was taught first-hand how to start, build and grow a successful company.

Professors

Since day 1, i’ve been learning from Brad Hagen and Sid Krommenhoek. You couldn’t dream up better cofounders. We will always have a unique and special bond because of what we endured together. Zinch would not have made it past year 1 had either one of them not been there. I owe them a lot. I want them involved on every company I start, at least as advisors.

For the last 2 years, i’ve had the honor of learning from Anne Dwane, our current CEO. She has been the ultimate professor during my schooling here at Zinch. She’s a masterful communicator and an exemplary leader.

She’s always been so generous, supportive and patient with me. Only she knows how often I’ve screwed up (a lot). But every time I did, she took the opportunity to train, teach and help me learn. Our relationship didn’t come without challenges (none do), but overall i’ve been very lucky and fortunate to have her as a teacher, mentor and friend. The apprenticeship will hopefully continue, as i’m sure i’ll be reaching out to her as I face my own challenges as CEO. For me, she has set the gold-standard for what it means to be a great CEO. I will work hard to emulate her example.

Zinch

Zinch is in great hands. From inception, we’ve worked tirelessly to surround ourselves with people who are smarter and more talented than us founders. We were convinced that it’s how you build a great company. And we still believe that. As a result, today we have an incredibly talented, smart, passionate, hard-working, and committed group of stars.

I couldn’t possibly be more optimistic and confident about the future of this company — because I know the people behind it know how to win. It’s what has allowed me to make this decision without any hesitation. I’m proud and honored to have rubbed shoulders with these folks. They’ve taught me so much and I hope to work with them again someday.

Early this year, my wife and I sensed that this year would be transformational. And we were very right.

My day to day involvement with Zinch is ending, and I will be starting a new company. I will always be a founder of Zinch. I’ll continue to be strategically involved and will continue to be Zinch’s biggest cheerleader. I have a very large vested interest to see that Zinch succeeds. It’s all i’ve known. It’s my entire career. It’s my baby.

However, as Zinch has grown and stabilized, my heart has had a growing desire to get back into early-stage startups. One of the many things that Zinch has reinforced in me is that I absolutely love building businesses and creating products. I love it so much in fact that I wanna go do it all over again. Again and again and again. The ups and downs of growing and building a startup are feelings very difficult to describe, but for me it’s incredibly fulfilling. I absolutely love it.

Next

The ultimate challenge is creating a product that millions of people want. It’s near impossible to do. But i’m ready for the challenge once again. It’s calling my name. I know it’ll be hard. I know the odds are stacked against me. But I have been schooled and trained by the best. I’m ready. I’m confident. And i’m hungry to get out and do it again.

I won’t share the specifics of my next venture quite yet, but I will say that what i’m about to take on is scary big. It’s ambitious and it’s daunting. It’s in a young, but fast-growing market. Not in Education. And it’s primarily mobile. It’s an area i’m very passionate about because it’s a problem that i’ve had for a long time now — and still hasn’t been solved. I’ve been watching from the sidelines for some time now, just waiting for someone to create this product. No one has created it yet. So with each passing day, i’ve been itching to throw my hat in the ring. The opportunity is wide open and up for grabs, but big players are starting to take notice. The company who wins in this space will be a big winner. It’s the next Holy Grail of sorts.

This will be the biggest challenge i’ve ever faced. But I’m ready to dance in the eye of the storm. I’m excited. I’m happy. And i’m oozing with passion..

Round 2 starts now.

  • Aaron

     Very cool brother! I would wish you luck in the new venture but luck has very little or nothing to do with it. I love how you said that being involved in this business has given you so much experience and as a fellow entrepreneur I definitely appreciate the ‘oozing’ of passion and the desire to take on a new project. Propsicles to you, have fun with round 2. 

    • http://www.mickhagen.com/ Mick Hagen

      Thanks. I appreciate it.  

  • Nathan Tanner

    Congrats man! Excited to hear more about the next venture. 

    • http://www.mickhagen.com/ Mick Hagen

       Thanks Nate!

  • http://twitter.com/collegevisit SmartCollegeVisit

     Mick, congratulations! I’m sure the shift will be bitter-sweet at first, but you’ve built some thing wonderful at Zinch and I’m sure you’ll go on to do the same with your new venture. For an education startup like mine, your success has been inspiring. Wishing you the very best — Kelly

  • Anonymous

     what’s the new company going to do ?

  • Ada Asuoa

    Hey Mick. Somehow I stumbled upon this page and I have to say I am very impressed! I never really knew how successful Zinch had become.  You have a beautiful family and wonderful ambition. And I am glad to know that you still remain grounded and humble. Keep it up and you will continue to soar! Best of luck to your new endeavour! I’m proud of you cous!

    • http://www.mickhagen.com/ Mick Hagen

      Thanks Ada! I really appreciate that. Hope you’re doing well!

  • bpanuva bpatel

    You remind my college days. I also were funny at school time. And make people thinking with my cool ideas.

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