What do Robin and Dave do during BlueStamp Offseason?
Last minutes. August 5th, 6:13 pm. BSE, year 1 complete. Our 10 young engineers had just left to continue their life’s work. Some are now off to college and some just their sophomore year. What a summer. We saw hard work, great questions, incredible struggles, and most of all, undying passion and persistence. Dave and I “reclined” in our ‘instructor chairs’ and breathed a deep exhale to the tune of “Man, I can’t believe that just happened”.
Exhale. Engineering parts were strewn across the room, boxes empty, ready to be packed, a room to be swept, and a hearty goodbye awaited. Dave was off to finish planning his wedding and I was off to spend a week of vacation at a summer camp in Erie, Pa. And of course, some celebration was in order before we parted ways.
Tired. In the weeks following, we took time off from BSE to tend to our day jobs. Dave went back to Ithaca to continue at his electronics start-up, Mezmeriz (http://www.mezmeriz.com) making a micro sized projector for cell phones and I was off to Houston to tend to my start-up, Alzeca Biosciences (www.alzeca.com). But man was I tired, tired, tired.
Re-start. After taking a few weeks to reboot, Dave and I started turning to BSE 2012. We spent a weekend in 2012 hanging out on Lake Erie, but also designing sweatshirts for our young engineers (unfortunately, neither Dave, nor I is much of a designer and we have since outsourced sweatshirt design to a much more capable party — they’ll look much better!). We also spent time evaluating our “lessons learned” worksheet — What can we be doing better and how do we make those changes? BSE 2012, bigger and better than ever.
Serendipity. During one of my trips for Alzeca to Houston, I was chatting casually with one of our investors about BlueStamp. Just so happens, he sits on the board of one of the charter schools in the city and one of their next focus areas is on expanding their curriculum to be more hands on. Sometimes life just works out. My favorite thing about recruiting from charter schools is how simple the educational model is. These students, often underprivileged and coming from low family incomes, get to school at 730 and are in class until 530. They spend 3 more hours a day in school than typical high school students and do 8 weeks of summer school. Good old fashioned hard work. Love it. Dave and I quickly planned a trip in October to go visit the school and meet the key people. Everything went well and we are now planning for BSE Houston by the summer of 2012. (I also introduced Dave to the Houston outdoors as we ran some fleet footed miles around Rice U, basking in humidity and the swarm of night time mosquitos.)
Other stuff. BSE conference calls still run 3+ hours a week. We’re hiring more instructors for next year (contact us if interested!), thinking of new projects, and writing recommendations for our students. We also spend time staying up on each other’s life. Dave is settling in nicely to married life and his newly minted life in Denver, Colorado, and I am still running the circuit from NYC, to Texas, to SF (presently sitting at a Coffee Bean in SoMa).
Winning. As a bellicose, passionate, unreasonable football fan, I can tell you that winning doesn’t just happen during the game. No, its the weeks in between and more so during the off season. Sure, you have to go out an execute, but you can’t execute unless you prepare yourself in the offseason to do so. You have to train, think, watch tape, and figure out your weaknesses from the previous season. It isn’t glamorous. But its the ability to succeed and push through the most banal of tasks, the tasks that others aren’t willing to do that will ultimately drive your greatest success. So yeah, even with the ‘soldering irons unplugged’, BSE is still as hot as ever.