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November 27, 2013

The startup CEO who got sacked

…and still made $2m.

By Cbr Rolling Blog

Startups can be wild, unpredictable things, and even when they grow into success stories, that doesn’t go away.

So Marc Barros’s blog post one year on from effectively being sacked from his role as CEO of wearable camera-maker Contour makes for inspiring reading, if you can get past the hubris.

He started the company in his parents’ house as part of the University of Washington’s business plan competition and the firm went on to hit 277th on the Inc. 500 list, with a 2011 revenue of $27.3m.

But last year things took a turn for the worse when investors and suppliers demanded the business become profitable, and "the choices on the table were between awful and sh***y", said Barros.

"Awful would have meant reducing the size of the company, immediately, and working hard to keep both our bank and suppliers on board as we forced ourselves to be profitable overnight," he added.

"Sh***y was accepting terms that basically sold control of the company for $2m."

Tragically, Barros accepted the millions (surprisingly, ‘sh***y’ usually means something a fair bit… sh***ier than getting a lot of money for most) and he was left with "anger, disbelief, frustration, and longing". And $2m.

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However, he does come up with some good points all entrepreneurs should consider before diving into their next venture, namely:

– Have a purpose (being passionate about the product, or about creating a business)

– Find people you work well with

– And don’t underestimate their skills – trust them with important jobs and don’t do it all yourself

He concludes: "As an entrepreneur I get to start over. With a clean sheet of paper I get to take everything I learned in my nine years and make the world a better place."

Which is entrepreneur speak for ‘make a shed load of cash’, but still, he’s come through the other side of being sacked from his own startup, and has the appetite to start over – that’s a lesson worth learning.

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