Embracing the Unknown: How I Decided to Found My Own Company

Embrace the Unknown: How I Founded My Own Company

African Americans and jobs
(Image: iStock.com/Jacob Ammentorp Lund)

A little over a year ago, I was the chief technologist at Dyn, the fastest growing private company in New Hampshire, with an Internet performance product suite that is changing how companies connect to their end-users. Yet after years of helping the company grow to more than 400 employees on three continents, I decided to leave to found my own startup, Adored.

Yep, some people thought I was crazy. But I wasn’t one of them. I know myself–I was itching to strike out on my own but was afraid to make the change. It isn’t easy to tell your spouse you’re walking away from a plum assignment to start something that might fail. But what kind of entrepreneurs would we be if we liked easy things?

Luckily, there are a few questions you can ask yourself and steps you can take to ensure you’re making the right decision and setting yourself up for success.

Align Your Passion With How You Spend Your Time


There are two things you should always look for in a job:

  1. The ability to be passionate about what you’re doing.
  2. The ability to work with great people.

The alignment of these two things is crucial. You can be working with the greatest people in the world, as I felt privileged to at Dyn, but if you’re not excited to jump out of bed each morning and attack the work day with vigor, it’s a sign that your personal passion and how you’re spending your time are out of alignment. After seven years at Dyn, my fire had dimmed.

At first, I was disappointed in myself. Why had I lost my personal passion for the work I was doing? I had lived and breathed the company for years and I still believed in its vision and its mission. What happened? Had I changed as a person? Then I came to an important realization: I hadn’t changed. The size and scale of the company had changed.

Differentiate Early-Stage Startups and Growth Companies


When we think about the end of any employer-employee relationship, we immediately think that the employee failed to perform, and so they were let go. The truth of the matter is that not every stage of a company is perfect for everyone. There is a big difference between an early-stage startup and a growth company.

A growth company is about maximizing scale, which means maximizing repeatability, which means building and evolving processes. It’s pretty clear to me, and just about everyone I know, that I’m not a “process person.” At a growth company, there are more “knowns” than “unknowns.”

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Cory von Wallenstein is the CEO at Adored, a company that is bringing marketing automation to main street.

BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.