“Girl, use the block feature.”

hustle and flow

This is a short series on my journey from “Hey, this might be a neat idea” to “Look what we just did.” (Hopefully, anyway. There’s always a solid chance that I fail gloriously and publicly.) Here’s Part 1 (with a greater explanation), Part 2Part 3Part 4, and Part 5.

seven weeks in >>>

Over the weekend, I feel good about the decision to not go with the shop in the Philippines, even if Christian and his team prove to be wayyy too pricey for us. Alayna and I go over notes for the upcoming week for Scratch or Sniff. Our video chat ends, and one with Zach begins.

“Well, Roo. Now you have your first really tough conversation as CEO. You have to break it to Felix that you’re not going with them.” The CEO thing is a joke, since there’s no brand and no product, but the reality is sobering. I have had several talks with Felix, and he’s not only expecting that we get started, but that I send him a hefty check this week.

“He’s not going to take it well.”

“No, he won’t. You could say that an investor is coming on board, but his investment is contingent upon you using this particular shop.”

Huh. That sounds reasonable. So I ask, “Can … can you be that investor?”

Zach gives me a look. Says in monotone, “Roo, I will not invest in the company unless you use Christian and Lightning Kite.”


I sit down to write the email, and lying suddenly does not feel like an option. This is a brand new project that I’m trying to see come alive. I don’t want Zach or anyone on the team to think that I’m likely to lie to simply get out of a hard conversation. I need to be a real-life grown-up. I check my watch; Felix is definitely sleeping.

I write a very polite note letting him know we’ve chosen another shop. Hit send. He should take that well.

Felix does NOT take my email well. He responds a few hours later and demands to know why. I follow up with a polite email explaining that we decided to go with a domestic shop, really appreciate his time, we’re sorry things didn’t work out with us, that sort of thing.

Not quite a breakup, but more like politely trying to turn down someone for a date.

My phone is ringing. My Skype is chiming. My Gchat is pinging. Felix is trying to get ahold of me via every method possible. I half expect a carrier pigeon to fly into my front window. I respond on Gchat. The conversation is long, tedious, and not going well.


Felix emails me twice more and my phone continues to ring. I put my phone on silent and stare at it. It rings again, but this time it’s Sam — a friend of mine and a creative director for a firm out in Illinois — who asks for app updates. I tell him what happened with Felix.

“Damn, Roo, you could have just taken Zach’s advice and lied,” Sam teases.

“I feel SO badly. Should we offer them some money for their time? You know, since they spent time hearing about the idea and putting together the quote for us?”

“Did you sign a contract with them?”


“Wait, you didn’t sign a contract with them?


“You’re not actually backing out of a contract?”

“Answer’s still no.”

“You explained the scope of the project and they gave you a quote?”

“Well … yes.”

“And he’s mad that you’re going with another shop?”


“Then no you don’t give him money.  He is working your emotions hard.”

“I feel sooooo badly.”

“Do people call you and ask you for quotes for copy for their brands?”


“Do you spend time talking to them and writing up proposals?”


“Do people ever say turn your proposals down?”

“Of course.”

“Do you badger them or ask them for money as a consolation prize?”



“Got it.” I say.


It’s late, and my phone chimes. It’s an email from Christian with the quote.

“These are no overseas numbers,” I say to no one in particular. A text comes in. Zach had received the email, too.


Christian’s quote is closer to the previous ones we received — the ones that made me feel a little hot under the collar. But, unlike the other shops that quoted us, he sat with me on a 90 minute phone call to understand every single feature I wanted, and then sent us a four page document with features broken down line-by-line. With all the bells and whistles that we thought were the stripped down version? Pricey. But we could trim a little here and there, maybe.

Plus, no other shop had been that thorough — had they been, we might have seen numbers in the $50k range. Additionally, the quote includes numbers for my own API. We’re building an app and a database, which — okay, when you look at it like that, doesn’t sound super sexy.

Christian’s numbers make me sweatier than Felix’s, but everything still feels right. Expensive, but right.

I tell Zach I’ve found my match. If this was Tinder, I’d swipe right.





More messages from Felix.





“Girl, use the block feature,” Alayna finally yells at me via video.

alayna-ryanLook at her face. Look at it.

I obey. Block Felix. Still feel like a jerk, but confident that I’m moving in the right direction.

Nonetheless, more line items under “Things I need to work on.”

+ hard conversations

+ having thick skin

+ exercising control when pounding tacos, I guess