It has been ten years since I sold Headbone Interactive, my last online game and edutainment venture. We had an awesome creative team, made great games and had a leading online website and I learned lots of lessons and came out the wiser. I hung up my hat in 2000 soon after giving birth to my third child and went home to spend more time with my family. I was jumping off the wild high-tech ride for good. I think I slept for about a year after.
Those intervening ten years I spent in a more normal way like a real mom, not an entrepreneur mom…engaging together with my kids and the world–hiking, swimming, baking, making music, reading together, driving, coaching soccer and tennis teams, playing tennis, going out to hear music or to the movies, and writing a blog, and then short stories, and then starting to write a novel. It was all relaxed and hunky dory. A lot about it felt right except for this nagging odd quiet, the walking in circles at home as the kids increasingly made their own way into the world…a certain longing for the hustle and bustle and excitement of riding the hightech wave; my heart was opening up to new possibility!
Like a lot of moms, I felt a need for engagement in something beyond the home that held meaning for me. I would go on walks with mom friends, all of us well educated, experienced who had foregone our careers to take care of our families and we all felt a sense of longing to some extent. I felt a certain void in the area I once loved at Headbone, Corbis, and Microsoft collaborating with a team of amazing people to create something fun, zany, and wonderful. Writig was great and it had been a dream but it was a lonely pursuit. On the other hand, I didn’t miss the demands of having to go into the office every day and come back late. Freedom was intoxicating. But there was that voidish thing, “what had I actually done today?”
Then I got an iphone and I started seeing all the possibilities in the app world for what we had pursued ten years ago. I got hooked on words with friends and played it constantly. I saw the opportunity to brew something up truly fun and whimsical and engaging for kids and families. I could take what I learned from before and do it better. And now it could be done for a fraction of the cost and in a far simpler way. Still I mostly mused about this app world over my kitchen table.
One day Chuck Gamble called. He was one of the best Creative Leads and animators we had at Headbone. He was in town, in a pickle, his contract work had lightened up, he wanted to have lunch and tell me all about his experience launching his iphone app slide-a-ma-jig and talk about possibilities. When I hung up the phone I was both excited and also fearful that I might get sucked in. I cautioned myself to remember how hard it was. How painful it is when it ends badly. So much for that sermon.
Our lunch at Cafe Presse on Capital Hill lasted four hours and at it we hatched an idea that we both became mesmerized by. I went home and thought, what the heck, as long as I don’t do anything stupid like mortgage my house in order to develop a 99 cent iphone app, this project could be just the thing I need to get my engines running and my mind and spirit engaged. I was thrilled by the possibility.
Like I usually do when I have an idea, I kinda get high on them and I start talking about it with everyone I know and I try to interest friends in getting involved or helping shape it. I showed our concept to a couple of friends who had worked for Amazon and they loved it. And before you knew it, there was not only Chuck and I, but also H. and G. two more pops joined the team. They were terrific and just as eager and enthused about learning and doing as we were.
I have a million ideas, and 999,990 of them go nowhere, This idea seemed to have a lot of momentum on its own, it was rolling along on pure enthusiasm and sweat equity. It felt great. Almost anything seemed possible. That was the beginning two months ago.