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Mercaris is building a market for sustainable agrictulture
My Entrepreneurial Journey
After dropping out of college and a series of jobs including temp, house painter, lifeguard and cook; I found programming as a hobby, and quickly a career. The first few years were about becoming competent and mastering my craft. It became apparent to me that I did not want to spend 1/3 of my life doing things for other people, I wanted to learn more about business and customers and what made the whole system tick.
After leaving Sears I started my first "company" (which was really more of a tech project). It was a platform for online gamers to plan activities, create profiles, and initiate voice chat. In typical first time tech founder fashion I spent 8 months of the 12 months I gave myself building the first version. By the time I got it out in the real world for feedback it was really too late to solve all the problems and monetize it.
Chicago Climate Exchange
After Simergence I needed a paying job. With few connections in Chicago I went to a recruiter and requested to be placed at a startup. I wanted to learn where I had gone wrong. Fortunately that startup was CCX, where I met a bunch of great people including my current co-founder Kellee James.
After CCX was sold I had three people approach me about building the tech platform for an exchange. I figured that sounded like a business opportunity! I applied to what is now Techstars Chicago and was accepted. Kellee joined me as I needed a co-founder and her project was on hold. Ultimately a startup serving startups with uncertain revenue wasn't the best idea after all.
I was ready for something different. I wanted to do something without venture capital, boards and control issues. I always tried to make my hobbies a bigger part of my life, so with Jack Eisenberg, whom I had met at Techstars, we started a company for hobby starter kits. It was probably the most fun I have had at a startup, but physical product with low margins is hard.
And this brings us to today. Jack and I wound down Hobstr and I sold Exchangery to Kellee for equity in Mercaris, the company she was in the midst of founding. It was a kindred spirit to CCX, but with Organic and non-GMO ag products rather than environmental ones. It was the perfect marriage of a solid business plan with a market that needed it. Four years in and we are still chugging along.
Future Projects
Some ideas I have had floating around my head.
Durable Vintage
Wicker Park Stories