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When Hard Work Pays Off

This is Kevin here. Last week a short, but impactful chapter in my life came full circle.

By November 2011, I was at a low point in life. My mom had passed away two years before. Danielle and I had moved to San Francisco, and I had made hardly any friends. I missed my friends from being in Seattle for 30 years. With the move, I had started a consultancy which eventually became a startup. By the end of 2011 it was clear that too wasn’t working. I had burned through my life savings. I swallowed my pride, shut down my failed startup, and started looking for a job.

I joined a company called HelloFax. They had the two cofounders and two other engineers. The five of us worked out of a studio apartment in the Lower Haight. Right away, it was a refreshing change from working on a stalled startup: we were making revenue, and our customers loved us. More over, it was a breath of fresh air to be working with a team again. When we weren’t busy coding, we were joking around.

I remember being struck by the CEO Joseph Walla. I would bounce ideas off of him about crazy things we could be doing. “Joseph why aren’t we doing advertising; we could be growing so much faster! Or why don’t we invest in something to make the signatures look better.” He was unflappable though, and couldn’t be deterred from his vision. I watched as he took early UI designs that were too complex and spent hours honing them down to something elegant.

He wanted to keep all his employees unimpeded, and so it wasn’t uncommon for him to take out the garbage in the morning (he was too frugal to hire a janitor).

When Danielle pitched me on cofounding Referly together six months later, my greatest reservation was that I’d have to give up working with the HelloFax team. I did decide to leave, and my last commit to the code base was helping to rebrand them to HelloSign.

I kept in touch with Joseph over the years, and was always impressed with his unwavering focus and commitment to his company. I wasn’t surprised to see this week that he announced HelloSign has been acquired by Dropbox. It made me so happy to wake up to the news and see that all their hard work had paid off. Congratulations Joseph and the HelloSign team!

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