— by Adam Metcalf
When we started ZeeMee, I would have defined myself as passionate follower of Jesus. We all follow something or someone. I follow the teachings of Jesus.
My good friend was our Founder and CEO. He was a fundraising machine. We raised a $1m in seed round as completely green and naive Founders. We grew fast via splash marketing. We literally dressed up in orange spandex and hosted dance parties at college conferences. We wore jorts to keep it classy. This mascot was known as Ginger Fro. He became a conference legend. We were hard to miss.
Splash marketing is an art and we were masters of the art. We soon, thereafter, raised an A round from a highly respected VC in Silicon Valley. They were partial to Ginger Fro. When your marketing strategy is orange tights and dance parties, you are undoubtedly going to have elements of a cowboy culture. We were definitely shooting from the hip and our mistakes were plentiful.
Despite missteps in our business model and product, we raised a Series B and we continue to grow as a company.
Very few companies raise an A round, let alone a B round. And even fewer have as much fun as we did. Sometimes you start to measure your success via these metrics and you pray earnestly that the momentum continues.
Throughout this time, I was pursuing Jesus. I was reading the Bible daily, pressing into prayer and serving in my local church and community. And yet, I missed it.
As I reflect back on the early years of ZeeMee, I was consumed with self-centered prayer. I was praying constantly for the success of ZeeMee and for our investors to have a great return. Don’t get me wrong, these aren’t bad things to pray for! They just aren’t the best things.
I spent far less time praying for the team at ZeeMee. Less time pouring into their lives. Less time learning about their passions, interests and beliefs. I often failed to display compassion, empathy and patience. Conveniently putting aside what Jesus taught for quick iterations, increased productivity, and wanting to see more hours in the seat. All the while, the real beauty and meaning of the journey…the lives of this fabulous team was staring me in the face. But I missed it.
As our business model and product changed, some of these amazing people and relationships became casualties of poor decisions and leadership. I was a fool.
I’ve been extremely blessed to have mentors that completely changed my very temporal perspective on being a Founder. These mentors include Dustin Keele, Michael Dittmar, Eric Quan, Henry Kaestner, Rusty Rueff and others that I have been so thankful to learn from. And when I say mentor, I simply mean that I learned from their experience, their mistakes and their humility. I don’t meet with any of them regularly, or even see them often. I attended NCS, Inklings and listen to the FDE podcast. In that way, these type of mentors are available to us all and I highly encourage you to follow in the footsteps of brothers and sisters that have gone before us.
I learned from these brothers that I need to be far less focused on success and far more focused on souls. Focus on the precious souls of the wonderful people that you are blessed to work with. Pray for them. Love on them. Pour into them. It is these relationships that truly make you successful.
My prayers have changed. I still pray that ZeeMee will succeed financially and our investors get a great return. But it isn’t my central focus. My focus is to show the love, kindness and compassion of Jesus to those around me and deeply love the beautiful people of different faiths, beliefs and backgrounds that make up our company. I most certainly don’t always do this well, but I wholeheartedly believe this is what it should all be about.
Your team is your real success. I am so thankful for our diverse team at ZeeMee. They are from all different walks of life, customs, and faiths, and I consider myself truly blessed to spend a single day in the startup trenches with them.