By Jeff Gawronski, Special to EO and founder and CEO of DormCo
Drive is what makes an entrepreneur! As entrepreneurs, we will always have obstacles and even company setbacks. But what can’t be kicked out, bankrupted or stolen from us is drive. Drive has always been my key resource– not money, new ideas or time. As long as that’s not extinguished, I’ll always be able to say I’m an entrepreneur.
I was the co-founder of an online dorm supplies venture. Sales had been strong and the company was growing. While I was working from home, my business partner, the company’s other founder, sent me an urgent message. When I arrived, my partner calmly directed me to the meeting room. We sat down, he looked at me expressionless and began to speak.
Despite our successes, my business partner and I had two very different ideas to move our company forward. Minor financial and organizational issues of all sorts grew to be big disagreements, and our rift boiled over to the point where we couldn’t even work in the same office. We tried to settle our differences. I even offered to be bought-out from the company I loved.
My business partner–my good friend–had different plans. Instead of negotiating a buyout, he attempted to have me kicked out of my own company. He cited “theft” by arguing that the side work I was doing broke fiduciary responsibility and thus voided the operational agreement. He used this as his attempt to boot me out of the company at no cost. My pay stopped. My email address was shut down. I was left stunned!
I was able, with the help of a lawyer, to gain access back into my company, but it was no real solution. Under the advice of my lawyer, I could have shut down the company due to my partner’s actions, or accepted my partner’s new offer for a binding valuation on his terms. I decided to accept the offer.
Bit-by-bit, I launched my own online dorm supplies company, DormCo, in March of 2010 with the buyout money. My new company showed immediate promise and I had a stunningly successful first year. Things had finally turned around. I am grateful and better off having experienced the most challenging route and building a new company that adheres to my beliefs and goals.