I had been working as a lame duck at BriteScreen for a few months while Vadym and I prepared to launch our new company. (Read how I became a lame duck in my previous blog post.) I hated going into the BriteScreen office every day during that period, but I knew there wouldn’t be a second chance to make the break and confront the other owners, thus, I wanted to prepare for as many things as I could.
My last week at BriteScreen was actually spent on vacation in San Diego. I returned on a Sunday night and Vadym’s plane from Ukraine was scheduled to land in Minneapolis one night later. With a ton of butterflies in my stomach, I drove to the office in Shakopee Monday morning to have a face-to-face confrontation with the other two owners. My ultimate goal, although definitely an optimistic one, was to let them know that I expected them to hand over the company to me and resign. If they agreed to that, I’d agree to keep them on the company health insurance for six months and not sue them for the money they embezzled from me.
I arrived to find the office door locked but could hear the other owners inside. I put my key in the door and jiggled it, but it did not turn. The landlord worked in the same building, so I went to see what I could learn from her. She explained that since the lease was not in my name, I had no right to the new keys. She let me know that she had the locks changed on the previous Friday. Why were the locks changed? She was told I had been falsely representing the company.
I headed back out to my car, drove around the block a few times thinking and decided I would call the office and get this done over the phone. That conversation went something like this:
BS Owner: Hello.
Me: Hey. I was just at the office and I noticed the locks had been changed. Can you explain that to me?
BS Owner: Sure Andy, we found out about your little plan with Vadym to steal all our clients. We’re beating you to it.
Me: Interesting, well what is your plan for paying me back the money you stole from me by making your car payments and personal credit card payments and telling me they were programming expenses?
BS Owner: F*** you Andy. We’re done with you, and I have already told all our clients that as well. Thanks for the head start.
Me: F*** you too. I guess we’ll see you in court.
After hanging up the phone, my heart was going about 1000 beats per minute and the decision was quite clear that they would not voluntarily hand over BriteScreen. Instead, Vadym and I were going to start our own company doing the exact same thing, and the clients would have to decide if they wanted to follow us.
We were fully prepared for this option, so I spent the rest of the day calling a few of the most important clients and explaining to them what had happened. During those conversations, I actually got three different job offers from three of the clients. I declined and let them know that the programmers of their sites and I were planning on starting our own company. More importantly, I told them we’d love to earn their business. We were ready to help them at that moment if needed, but we would officially be up and running in a few days.