December 23, 2009 at 9:45pm EST. That marks the official time when the project/company that has consumed my life for a year (really more) was finally open for business. Check it out at http://www.vacationtrade.com and get details about what it is we do at http://www.vacationtrade.com/page/blog. If you own a timeshare and have become frustrated with the experience of trying to exchange it through RCI or Interval International, we hope we can make your life better.
The site is in an alpha state right now. That means it basically works but it’s not hard to find bugs or opportunities for improvement. There’s a saying in the startup world – if you’re not embarrassed/worried by the first release of your product, you waited too long to release. I also like what Paul Graham had to say in his essay on what startups are really like:
It’s so important to launch fast that it may be better to think of your initial version not as a product, but as a trick for getting users to start talking to you.
Alright users – speak up!
The past year and change has really been a whirlwind. It actually all started in April of 2008 when Mike Blackwell and I decided we wanted to form a company together. We just needed to figure out what it was to do. I could not ask for a better person to go through my initial startup experience with than Mike. As the former CEO of ShareThis along with getting in on the ground floor of a prior startup that crashed and burned, Mike knew the ropes and was able to properly set my expectations and helped us to focus on the right things. He is also a great guy who has an integrity and perspective on life that I really admire.
Over the course of the past year, we’ve had several other folks come along and join the team in one way or another. Once we had settled on the right business idea (after many false starts), Bob Kington and LJ Freeman got involved as co-founders of the company in May of this year. In July, Sara Gibbons joined us and in November, Kevin Munc became employee #6. Gina Winkler also spent a fair amount of time on our project as did several other friends. And we could not have done this without the help of the guys at Edgecase, most especially Adam McCrea.
So, come and check us out and let us know what you think. Yes, I’m slightly embarrassed about the site’s flaws and shortcomings, but I guess that means we released in time. The next several months are going to be extremely busy (just as the past several have been) while we react to feedback and make improvements. I take it as a good sign that there’s a big part of me that wants to get started on those right now. But, it is Christmas time and rest and family time are also important. Have a Merry Christmas everyone and may your 2010 find you as excited by life’s opportunities as I am.