Four years ago I was fresh out of university with a fancy journalism degree and a job paying peanuts in a golf course pro shop (one of my favourite summers ever, for the record). Three years ago I was working in the tech practice of a PR agency, learning the ropes and navigating the bottom rung of the corporate ladder. While at that agency I met my boss Sarah Prevette through a mutual friend, and when I found out she was starting a small business and needed a Community Manager I jumped at the opportunity. Well actually I said ‘what the heck is a Community Manager’ and then debated about whether to leave a secure job for a startup for days on end, and finally came to the conclusion that working with Sarah and being a part of a startup environment would be a great learning experience.
Looking back almost three years later I can say that joining Sarah on the journey that would become Sprouter (it started as RedWire for anyone who hasn’t been around for the full three years) was the best decision I’ve ever made. So it’s with extreme sadness that we announce today that Sprouter is closing its doors. It’s been a heck of a journey, and one that has shaped my personal and professional lives for the better. If you’re interested in the reasons, head over to the Sprouter blog and read our final blog post. Here I’m going to talk about what being a part of Sprouter meant to me.
There are too many highlights to count at Sprouter. Here are some of my favourites:
All the highlights of the past three years come down to the people. The friends I’ve made during our travels around the world; the entrepreneurs who have pitched me their ideas with passionate voices and animated hands; the countless people I met at networking events. I’m walking away from Sprouter with so much experience, and an online and offline community that is bigger than I ever could have imagined.
Before I started at Sprouter I didn’t know what startup life entailed. But the learning curve was steep (think the world’s highest roller coaster steep) and I quickly learned that startups mean the following things:
I know in the next few days and in the months to come that there will be lots of talk about Sprouter, our team, and our lifespan. Here’s what I’ll say to anyone who’s wondering: while Sprouter isn’t a financial success, it was a success to each and every entrepreneur who had a chance to promote their business, learn from an expert, debut on the Sprout Up stage, or learn from any of our projects. We helped people start and run their business, and we had fun along the way.
And behind every great idea is a great leader, and in this case I couldn’t have asked for a better boss, mentor and friend. Sarah Prevette is undoubtedly one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever met, and she’s a damn great travel companion. To say Sarah and I are close would be an understatement – we’re family, just like Grant and Vince are family too, and that doesn’t end just because Sprouter’s journey is over. Sarah, thank you for taking a chance on a girl who thought Twitter was stupid and allowing me to share your crazy vision, and to wear my Snuggie in the office.
If you’ve read this far you’re probably wondering what happens to me now that Sprouter has closed its doors. I’ll be taking the month of August off to enjoy the sun and relax (a novel concept), and then traveling in Europe for six weeks in September/October, a trip I’ve been wanting to take for years. I’ll share career news as it comes up, but trust me when I say I’ll be at another startup. Agency and corporate life might be for some people, but I’m a startup girl through and through.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who supported us along the way. If you came to a Sprout Up, read an issue of Sprouter Weekly, asked a question to one of our experts, used our peer-to-peer community, had one of our stickers on your laptops, or were one of our many social media followers I thank you. It’s because of you that I was able to do my job for so long, and it’s because of you that I step confidently into the next chapter of my life knowing that no matter what it includes, I’ll be ready.
Technology journalist, Financial Post columnist, former Managing Editor at BetaKit.com, and one of Marketing Magazine's 30 Under 30.