Announcement About KikScore’s Future
We are excited to announce that the KikScore technology and certain assets have been acquired. As of June 28, 2012, the KikScore service will no longer be available to customers. We recommend that our customers check out the Google Trusted Store product as an alternative to the KikScore service. In fact, we wrote this post last October that describes how complimentary the KikScore and Google Trusted Store products are for small businesses. We are very proud of the more than two years that we offered the KikScore service and are so grateful to the 1700+ small business customers that we have served globally.
Back in 2008 this all began at a Fuddruckers in Northern Virginia. The road from there to today has been filled with great highs, some deep lows, overcoming immense challenges all while dealing with the occasional kicks to the gut that most startups typically experience. It has been a sincere pleasure for the entire KikScore team to serve so many small businesses and also work to help them be successful through this blog, tweetchats and our December 2011 white paper. There is still great work to be done for small businesses and that is why we are so excited that an industry leader will be able to build off of the technology, platform and IP that we spent our blood, sweat and tears building, developing and launching.
Now The Very Important Thank Yous
There are so many people that helped us in invaluable ways get to this moment. That is why it is so important for us to take the time to thank the people that helped us. To the inevitable person that I forget, please forgive me.
- Two Intros Help Make the KikScore Sale Possible: Even before the stories of the introduction, two occurrences had to happen for us to get to today and for the sale of KikScore to become a reality. First, I went to my good friend’s wedding in beautiful Montana a few years back and secondly, I made the choice to attend Ohio State back in the late 90s for graduate school. Those two seemingly random events led to two separate, but critical introductions by Eric Liaw (who I met at our mutual friend’s Zeno’s wedding while roasting marshmallows at the rehearsal dinner in Montana) and Anuj Goswami (fellow OSU grad and Browns fan!) to the necessary stakeholders to make this deal come together. Even more importantly is the lesson learned from this: when people call you, return their calls….but maybe wait a bit! I took a little extra time to call Anuj back (ok 3 weeks!), but on a ride home from the Reston Town Center to DC on a cold Friday afternoon in February I finally returned Anuj’s call that quite randomly turned into the catalyst to bridging Eric’s introduction with an introduction Anuj would make within hours of our call. That one returned call to Anuj and his initiative set us off to the races to get this deal done! So a major set of thanks to Eric and Anuj for those crucial introductions at just the right time.
- KikScore’s Team: Frankly, I will never look at Denver the same way because that time zone difference with our headquarters in DC and 10:30pm team calls just about killed me. Somehow and someway over the years, we mastered the DC and Denver teams working together seamlessly. To that end, Travis Valentine, our CTO, worked every minute he could to help get us to where we could be in this position where we are at today. Without his tireless and amazing efforts, dedication and willingness just to get things done, we would never be making this announcement. We, along with our team, accomplished so many things that we are all proud of here. Our team was filled out by Mike Collins (product lead and resident Packers fan), Mike Mauseth (one of the original co-founders and Fudruckers guys and one person with a crazier sense of humor than me), Joel Springer (the creative visionary behind the KikScore look and feel), Mike Britti (Mr. 30,000 foot), Kristen Hillier (our scoring model whiz), and Woody Jones. We also must thank Sergey Kliuev our always available surge capacity developer in the Ukraine who was so great helping us with our partner integrations. It is awesome to have the technology the team built get recognized and acquired by a global technology leader.
- Killer Guidance from Our Key Advisor: Tom Lewis was nothing short of a savior to the KikScore team and especially me. As a founding member of the fantastic Founder Corps group, Tom provided continual strategic, product and partner guidance over the last year. Simply, without Tom’s guidance, support and introductions, there is no way we would have gotten as far as we did and had been in as many strategic discussions as we have been over the last few months. Every founding team and CEO should wish to have a mentor/advisor as accessible and strategic as Tom. Also there is another advisor I cannot really name due to certain sensitivities, but he knows who he is, and this is a special thanks to him. Again Tom was instrumental in making that introduction as well last year! Tom Lewis what can I say…..just phenomenal.
- Community/Evangelist Support: The overall small business community has been tremendously supportive of KikScore and our mission over the last two years. We had some fantastic folks that tirelessly helped us and so we want to recognize and thank each of them. They are: Anita Campbell (for all the mega shoutouts and support); Ramon Ray (thanks for the infectious energy and coverage of our growth); Ivana Taylor (for all the help and chats); Tai Goodwin (for inviting us to guest host the prestigious #SmallBizChat); John “ColderIce” Lawson (the amazing support and you always making us laugh); Tinu Abayomi-Paul (your unending good wishes) Jill Foster (the Dupont Circle/neighborly love); Laurie McCabe (for the SmallBizInfluencer nominations and interview); Shonali Burke (our early PR guru) and Howard Lewinter (for your guidance and stories). Sadly, somehow three of these folks are also Steelers fans. It is a tribute to them that they still talk to me since I am a Browns fan…….
- Friends’ Direct Support, Help & Guidance: The space here and the time cannot do enough justice to the friends who supported us, made key introductions, helped with creating amazing pitch decks, gave us strategic guidance and also just provided huge amounts of moral support along the way. They included: Shashi Bellamkonda (our #1 evangalist and my close confidant on our daily rides home); Jason Knaut (the best strategic/ex-investment banker/ex-corp dev guy any entrepreneur would want on their side); Harry Lalor (for listening to all my stories and the fantastic support); Ntoh Etta (for keeping us focused and helping with diligence); Eric Akunda (giving strategic guidance and helping keep things in perspective); Roy Dunbar (for being so generous and opening up his huge network to us with multiple introductions); Jake Lebowitz (for helping support me get the sale closed); Atul Rustgi (great strategic guidance as the clock wound down – though I am still surprised that a UMichigan guy would help out a Buckeye!); Elvis Oxley (for always thinking about connecting KikScore to every new person you met); Bobby Turnage (see this post on leadership on how he helped); and Miles Reidy and Dick LeFave (for each of them ironically on the same day in 2011 telling me to just go “all in” with my entrepreneurial drive and pushing me to succeed). I cant thank each of you enough for the incredible help and inspiration you each provided.
- Wise Counsel: At KikScore we were lucky to have great lawyers help us on this deal. Mike Hardy from Rosenberg, Martin & Greenberg, LLC in Baltimore, who I pulled too many all-nighters working with at White & Case, served as our lead corporate counsel and gave us great legal and non-legal guidance throughout the process of documenting and finalizing the sale of the KikScore technology. Also Rick Holzer and Chirag Patel from HolzerIPLaw in Denver have been great over the years serving as our IP and patent counsel through the long patent process for the KikScore technology.
- KikScore Customers: Without our customers we would have been nothing. We are so thankful for all the small business customers that gave us a chance, used our product, told their friends and evangelized KikScore. It was great to get to know so many of our customers as well through our interview series on this blog. Thanks to our customers for making this all possible. And I would be remiss not to send out a very special thank you to Paybaq’s Brian Esposito for being such a fantastic customer advocate for KikScore after nearly leaving us! We are so glad we won you back.
- Lastly & Most Importantly the KikScore Families: There is just not enough that any of the team can say about our spouses, kids, parents and siblings for being there and supporting each of us along the way. No one really can quantify the level of patience and understanding that each or our families had to go through when you have a startup with 10:30pm team calls, late night customer escalations and weekend after weekend of saying I just need to spend time getting things done. So for each and every family member we THANK YOU! Now specifically for Rebecca, my wife, I cant thank her enough for her unending patience for the entire KikScore experience and the major impact it had on our lives……though the great thing now is that the 24/7 defacto Customer Service Level Agreement I have had to abide by since she was a KikScore customer now expires on June 28th! Seriously, thank you Rebecca so much for the amazing support, help, guidance and trying to help me balance some crazy form of work-startup-family balance especially today as you are now 8+ months expecting! I could not have done this without your support. I am sure that many of the same tremendous thanks could be said for Travis and his wife Sarah and the rest of the team and each of their respective spouses. Thanks so much to each and every one of them.
On a personal note I look forward to moving on to my next gig….and oh yes it will be another startup launching this summer. I am really excited for it. Finally, I am thankful for trusting my gut instinct. Countless times so many of the people that I have thanked above either validated my gut thinking or told me I was way crazy so I luckily modified course a bit. The one thing that no one could convince me to do was giving up on our goal of getting KikScore this far. My gut always told me to push on in this journey to get to the end we all wanted to get to. I am therefore incredibly thankful that I both trusted that instinct while also having the team, advisors, friends, the community, evangelists, customers, counsel and especially the family to get KikScore to today’s announcement.