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Chris M. '12

Aug 10, 2014

Do I have a story for you…

Posted in: Best of the Blogs, Miscellaneous

First of all, can you believe the blogs are 10 years old? That's insane. Equal in insanity magnitude is I became a blogger in 2008, which feels an odd mix of distant and weirdly close. Like the first time your hometown city appears on road signs after a long drive – so close, but so far.

I attribute a statistically significant portion of this to a mismatch between the amount of stuff you can do in a given year, and the amount of stuff your brain *thinks* you can do. When you cram those years with stuff, you're so heads down in your work that you hardly notice dates flying by you like hurricane that sucked up a palm tree (get it? DATES?! eh?).

But then when you pop up and think back to just a few months or weeks ago and you remember where you were then, it feels like it __must__ be far away, because looks at all these new experiences you've had. The new pains you've ached. The hard things you can do that you didn't even know existed back then. That must have taken a long time right? But 2012; that wasn't THAT long ago....was it?

So imagine my surprise when I convince myself it's been 3 years since I failed to follow through on this mysterious mention of a "thing I'm working on this term, and it's the biggest and most exciting project I've ever been involved with. I'm really eager to tell you all about it, but I can't just yet. Very soon though....very soon..."

One of many lessons I've learned is that waiting for things to get perfect is an excercise in frustration. If you wait until you know how to do it, you've waited too long. You'll raise expectations by delaying faster than you can improve. Instead, you've got to dig deep and dive headlong into it. Taking every clumsy stupid awkward step until they're not clumsy or stupid anymore.

My clumsy stupid step in 2012 was deciding to let graduation happen without me and start a company based off of a class project in 2.009. We decided that bikeshare riders, like those in Boston's Hubway, should be able to rent helmets with bikes if they want. And that spring I was unwittingly opening a Pandora's box of experiences both horrifying and fulfilling to make it happen.

There are plenty of great stories HelmetHub has given me: that one macgyver'd (if macgyver were an idiot) hack with cardboard and batteries to get around a faulty voltage regulator in a protoype before demo session; pitching to investors who were my heroes because they'd done incredible things – one of our investors made a good chunk of his money from the infamous MIT Blackjack team, another built Guitar Hero – unravelling a mystery-hunt-worthy head-scratchingly-fiddicult bug in our credit card readers.

And there are a lot of scars I gained too: telling my friends they should leave the company they helped build. Times where my grocery bill was higher than the amount of money we had in our bank account (and I wasn't eating a lot). Feeling the blood drain from my lips when we realized a critical flaw in production units that would cost several orders of magnitude more than that same grocery bill to fix.

And to my surprise, I've put up with way more than I thought I'd be able to. Several times I drew lines in the sand about what would break me, where I'd decide enough is too much and get off this train only to see those lines behind me and myself curiously still aboard. Weird how that works.

But we're still around! And happily better than ever. We've raised some money, hired new people, and we're inching closer to our biggest and greatest deployments (which some of you might see very soon). It's been a smashing experience, and the process of building it has built me.

I think about this when I step back into the 2.009 classrooms in the fall to help teach the class that set me on this path. I think back to being a freshman trying to think of a convincing reason that I __really__ needed a single instead of a double in the dorms, completely unaware of all the great and awful experiences that were hurtling through space and time toward to meet me. I think about how this year's senior class is the group that came in right as I left. How I am now that crufty old (semi)alum eating Anna's in the student center after 2.009 lab lets out.

And I think about how many more experiences I'll have this year or these four. Wonderful and terrible, what's behind me prepares me for what's ahead and I think the blogs are no different. There are 10 years worth of stories here captured through the eyes of the people who call the 'tvte home; some wonderful and silly, some terrible and painful. Looking back, I can relate to so many of those stories, and I'm sure many of you can too. Many more will be able to in just a short while. And before you know it, then-frosh will be writing about what they've been up to after graduating and dumping all of it into clumsy stupid words on a page to be glimpsed and archived and embarassed in the future by.

Here's hoping to 10 more years of stories to tell. 

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