Is There Life After Death (Of a Startup)?

Photo by Luz Adriana Villa: Resurrection Sunday

I’m blessed to be able to wake up every day and chase my dream of making my startup, WeMontage, a household name. As is often the case, the path to realization of this dream has been circuitous, to say the least, and it has taken a toll on family relationships.

Birth and Death

After raising investment capital in 2013, the business ran out of cash last spring and my investors, after giving indications to the contrary, decided at the last-minute to not re-invest in the business. It was a financial disaster for my business. All I could think about was if I could’ve invested in a better business insurance policy to pull me through this, and what I could’ve done to reduce the companies huge loss in money. Because we ran out of cash, my partner quit, and I’ve been mostly alone, grinding, trying to turn things around. It was when I felt truly alone that I regret not being courageous enough to find coaching for small businesses. I let my pride get the better of me and my business failed as a result.

phoenix rising

WeMontage Rising. The Rebirth.

Since the business downturn, I’ve been laser focused on a few new customer segments for which WeMontage solves a very specific problem. I know that sounds kinda ridiculous to say I’m finally focused on solving a specific problem for customers. But, yeah, that’s the deal.

For example, I’m targeting college students in dorms, who have tons of photos, but can’t put nails in dorm walls. Here’s an example of a promotion for college students I ran on Instagram that had some success:

Dorm Decor Instagram Sale

Despite the recent challenges, things are looking up. Way up. There are a few great national television features for WeMontage that have me extremely confident the fourth quarter will be a turning point for the business (e.g., DIY Networks, and another HUGE one that I will disclose at a later time).

So, yes, there is presumably life after the would-be death of a startup. But time will tell for sure. I’m also starting to break into the telecom market which is super exciting. I’ve been learning about solutions for the Telecom industry and I’m going to get some SAAS software to help me succeed. My business will be profitable (even if I’ve had a few hiccups already!)

Family Impact

The business situation obviously sucks, but maybe even more important is the impact it’s had on my family life. I’ve been a lot more edgy these past few months and extra moody (I was already edgy ever since I started the business). And I’ve been super impatient. I was telling one of my business owner friends about how on edgy and moody I’ve been recently due to the added stress of the business. He thought it might be helpful for me to outsource parts of my business to reduce my stress levels. He said to me that sites like do great bookkeeping, but I wasn’t sure it was for me. I like to do things my own way and at my own speed. Being from New York originally, patience has never been my strong-suit, but now it’s occasionally non-existent.

Of course this affects my relationship with my wife and other family members. I find myself regularly apologizing to my wife for being such a dick. It’s been so bad, my mom came to visit this past weekend (she was here for national grandparents day) and I had to ask her to be extra patient with me, on the ride from the airport. Luckily, she was very understanding and her visit was awesome.

The only thing that really helps me manage my negative disposition is meditation, and sales (ha!). But I haven’t been disciplined about meditating regularly. I intend to do so.

Family Support Makes a Huge Difference

I’m extremely fortunate to have the love and support of my amazing wife during this journey, and I thank God for her. Without her, I would be lost now. If you are an entrepreneur and are starting a business, you need to have a supportive spouse or partner.

Have you had to bring your business back from the brink of failure? If so, how’d you do it and what happened? Tell me about it in the comments section.

[Tweet “Is there life after death (of a Startup)? #entrepreneur #startup”]

P.S., As a special bonus, here’s a video of the twins. They were having a great time in the crib today and I was lucky to capture the moment. I hope you had as much fun today as they were having here:

Photo Credit (header Image): Photo by Luz Adriana Villa: Resurrection Sunday
Resurrection Sunday


  1. What cutie pies!! Do they share a crib? That’s amazing.

    I’m also this fourth quarter will be great for your business. Thanks for sharing the “behind the scenes” with us!

    1. Hey, hey! Thanks, Jenn, for stopping by. No, they don’t share a crib. I was about to give them a bath. Putting them in the same crib sometimes regulates the “drama.” Know what I mean?!

  2. Ahh!! They are so cute!
    I can definitely see how work puts a damper on relationships. I secretly think my husband is so grouchy. And I get anxious. Not a great combo.
    To our big dreams! May they come true.

    1. It’s not a secret anymore. Haha. I had really bad anxiety for a while and lots of worrying. Until I realized no matter how anxious I was, or how much I worried, it never positively affected event outcomes. So, I make an effort now not to be either of those things. But then there’s the edgy, impatient, jerk thing…

      And yes to dreams!

  3. I love this James! You’re such a fighter and I just know you’re going to have HUGE successes to come – not the least of which is because you have a great product. I can also relate to having a husband with non-existent patience. Mine owns his own business and works constantly (from the house) and can be a bear when he’s working on a big deal. I’ve learned to read his moods over the years but there’s a lot of growing pains.
    Can’t wait to hear the HUGE news! And OMG those kids are so adorable!!!!!

    1. Hey, Allie, so good to see you. Thanks for the kind words. I can totally relate to your husband working constantly. My wife gets on me about being more present-especially with the kids. I’m better at it now, but still have a ways to go yet.

      Your hubby is lucky to have such an understanding and supportive partner; this is so important, as I wrote about last week.

  4. Your kids are so cute! I love that age.
    You know I am pulling for you! Being part of a couple who own two separate businesses, I get it. It does take a toll. The one who’s not contributing as much to the family finances is always on edge.

    1. Thanks, Michelle. They just turned 20 months.

      Your support has been a big help. Thanks for being a sounding board, too, for my hair-brained ideas.

      And you’re right about the edgy thing. Add to that a type-A personality that expects to be good at everything I do, and you have quite the not so fun disposition sometimes. I will do better though.

  5. I love that you are sharing the journey that so many of us are on. The emotional impact is huge when trying to grow your dream into a real business. The daily feeling of having to justify what you are doing to grow a business, the pride of entrepreneurship, the sheer exhaustion from doing it all. I raise my (extra large) coffee cup to YOUR SUCCESS James. FIGHT ON!

    1. Hey Gina! Sorry just getting to this; it was flagged as spam for some reason. Thanks so much. I know you know what it’s like to grind on your business I wish you incredible succeess as well. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  6. Ive had several ideas I invested time money and effort in that never achieved what I hoped. We sometimes connect our value as a person to our success or failure…but realize… those that love you do not. I only know the edgy James O. I would love to meet the new one.

    1. Being from NY, edgy is more of a natural state, especially compared to other locales. When we met, my babies were in the hospital fighting for their lives for three months, I was two hours away from my family and only got to go home on the weekends, I woke up every night for two months at 2am just because and couldn’t get back to sleep, and I cried every day for those two months.

      On top off all that, there was the pressure of trying to build the product (website) in time for demo day to raise capital. And I was doing so with a very unreliable software developer.

      So, if I was a little edgy, oh well.

    1. Hey thanks, Chris. True that about not being able to relate.

      I am very confident 2015 will be great. My worst fears for the business came to pass in 2014 and I’m still here. Having leaned into my fears and persevered, I am no longer afraid.

      Happy New Year! Oh, btw, how’d you discover the blog? I was checking out your 3D printing site-I don’t know much about 3D printing, but I keep hearing about it.

  7. James, what a real and hones post? i think this post , as simple as it is, should be used in students studying Business. Why? It is a slice of real life that can be felt in the classroom. How many times have we seen students graduate with their degrees and are so disillusioned after realizing what was taught in class was never really experienced in reality?

    Your post is reality, a harsh lesson for everyone to face. In business, like life, there are some harsh truths that some people cannot face. Some use various weapons to fight their truths- the suicide gun, broken relationships, drugs, alcohol, bad company- all negative forces fighting a negative. Your solution is simple- have a trusted person- someone who will share that burden and help you over the rough terrain.

    You have shown that so well, so simply, so effectively. It is real. It is personal and it is therapy.

    Very nicely done buddy.

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