I have a new job. I decided to leave Lean Systems, the startup where I was cofounder, and seek something else.
I’m now working as a Growth Specialist at Unito, a fast-growing company based in Montreal that does syncing between collaboration tools.
Moving on From Lean Systems
I joined Lean Systems two-and-a-half years ago, in September 2016, following my time with Techstars Boston (with some consulting in between).
I wrote about that decision here, and many of the things I said then held true.
At Lean Systems, we tried hard to move in the direction of a product-based company. The underlying technology my business partner Sebastien built is very powerful. When implemented at companies dealing with expensive-to-operate assets like private jets, the cost savings are huge: tens of thousands of dollars in potential savings each month.
We didn’t manage to realize the product vision while I was there. I may explore the reasons why in a future post, but suffice to say it’s always difficult to pull apart individual variables in a startup. There are so many interrelated unknowns.
The result, either way, was that we ended up working with most clients on a consulting-type basis. That model isn’t uncommon – you only have to look as far as companies like IBM or Element AI, to see them implementing some underlying technology on a custom basis for clients.
The downside of this model is it’s difficult, and slow, to scale. It becomes hard to automate onboarding because the models within the industry are so different. The shift from a consulting-based business to a product business is difficult without funding.
For many of those reasons, I found myself itching for something more, a new problem to solve, in a context where the business was product-based. I’ve always optimized my career decisions for learning, and I felt like I’d reached a plateau. At the very least my learning rate had slowed to a point I wasn’t comfortable with.
That said, the decision to move on was difficult. I have immense respect for Seb, the technology we built, and he’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever worked with. Loyalty is important in startups, and I will always support him however I can.
Companies in the private aviation, ground transport, or logistics industry would be wise to reach out to Seb and seek his services.
After making the decision to leave Lean Systems, I had no plans to jump into another job immediately. I was looking forward to spending some time back in Nova Scotia with my family, particularly my brothers, who are home from university for the summer.
I’ve always been interested in improving my own self-perception, including exploring all the personality tests I could find. In the process of deciding to leave Lean Systems, I thought a lot about the type of position I’d like to work in, assuming I didn’t start something new.
The main criteria I came up with were these:
A position involving problem solving,
An environment where I could operate with some autonomy,
A role that involved decision-making,
An opportunity for fast, high-intensity learning and growth,
And a team that I was excited about.
As I mentioned, I’ve always optimized for learning. Learning at the highest rate I’m capable is important to me.
Marc offered me a position in growth (Growth Specialist), where I’d be working closely with the data, product, and marketing teams, to find and exploit opportunities to grow the company. My mandate would likely shift over time, as new opportunities were prioritized and others were discovered.
Unito itself is growing quickly, and I’d long wanted to work with Marc in some capacity. We’ve respected each other since our time in Founder Institute, and Marc has a lot of experience that I’m keen to learn from.
During my pilot project, it also became clear that the team Marc has built at Unito is a special group. They possess many of the traits that have made Marc successful - honesty, transparency, and a drive to do great work.
I miss Lean Systems already, and will continue to miss working there in a founder role.
That said, I’ve learned more in the past six weeks than in any other six-week period in recent memory, and I can’t wait to be part of the next stages for Unito.
Oh, and we’re hiring!