My startup disappeared and I am up shit creek with no paddle!

- January 30, 2014 3 MIN READ

Sometimes the world likes to test you, like really test you.

We have had a killer start to the year here at Shoe String Media and have been going hard on content production, reader acquisition and revenue growth. Last week in particular we started to see some of the initial fruits of our labour when we looked at our analytics and campaigns booked in for February.

Then the universe decided, let’s throw a spanner in the works. That would be super fun right now.

Our entire business is online, everything. We basically have a paper free office because everything we do and create is in the digital realm and our backups are all kept digitally in the cloud as well.

On Tuesday our hosting provider – with whom we have never had any problems with – upgraded their users from a legacy system to a new VPS system, something that is normally routine, yet something went horribly wrong. A process that would usually take a few hours and not have too much disruption, essentially shut our business down for 27 hours. (I want to point out here that our tech people and their tech people did a stellar job of getting everything back up and running again).

When this happened, and I found out that all the files for our websites went missing in the process I kind of felt like this:


My startup had disappeared, I could not do anything about it and I was up shit creek without a paddle. There was no guarantee that everything was going to be recovered. In fact, at 10.00am on Wednesday morning the prognosis was that we would have to build everything from scratch. Two years worth of work.

Needless to say our office was a little manic – I was feeling awful for our online editor Tas who had put so much work into building that content over the last 6 months. It’s kind of like her digital content baby had just been killed.

Sometimes you need to take a step back

It is weird the way you react in certain situations. If something like this had happened in a corporate role I was working in, I probably would have been quite calm and come up with a way to prevent anything like this from happening in the future once it was fixed.

There is something about having your everything on the line, that kind of makes you a bit of a crazy person when the path runs into thorny bushes.

Thankfully I have a great team surrounding me, that were all like:


What did I learn from the experience?

When I run into situations like this, I always get taken back to a question a previous CEO of mine used to ask me when anything never went according to plan – What did I learn from the experience?

It is such an important question that I feel startups do not ask themselves enough. Last year when the business ran into co-founder issues, I walked away from the situation with a hard hitting education around corporate governance and overall finances in my business. This time I am walking away with a big lesson around systems and processes when it comes to the tech in the company.

We discovered some big gaps in the way we thought about that side of the business, and they need to be rectified, we need to make sure we have the right support on hand to deal with certain issues around the clock and make sure we have multiple backups of things in multiple places, cloud and on hardware.

All of this in the grand scheme of things means that our business has just gotten stronger, because it has forced us to reinforce and build out the tech side of our operation.

It’s easy to be the victim in startup land, but I feel if we give ourselves a small window to whinge, then focus on the learning part and follow everything up by sharing the experience, we can help strengthen the community by helping someone else avoid that mistake.

In the meantime, we are back to kicking some media butt.