Making a good exit – closing down ‘Mental Snapp’
Mental Snapp is a video diary app for people actively managing their mental health, supported through its early stage of development by the Ideas and Pioneers Fund. Developed in response to founder Hannah Chamberlain’s observations throughout her professional career as a film maker and storyteller, the company was formed in 2015 and recently made the decision to close down. Chamberlain explores the lessons learned from her journey and shares tips for making a good exit.
Closing down and exiting a company is no easy decision. The process of unhooking an entrepreneur from their enterprise is an emotional journey in itself. Unpicking what has been learned, what would be done differently and communicating with users all requires effort and from a different emotional and intellectual place than when engaged with building a business. The same energy is needed to dismantle as to build, but the impetus is much slower and the whole process more reflective.
I would encourage any entrepreneur thinking of this not to go too hastily and to think about the legacy of their project. Also to bear in mind that decisions made when running out of money are likely to be bad ones, and to put aside emotional or hasty survivalist thoughts and consider the decision coolly.
Do not underestimate the difficulty of unravelling tech that has been built. I am yet to work out a satisfactory way of dismantling the backend of Mental Snapp and disentangle the software and add on services that support it.
It is tempting to pivot a company or to work out what to do with the relationships formed, particularly with customers on social media. I would encourage transparency and to make sure that any pivot from a company account to staying in touch on a personal basis is done in order to continue to inform them of useful services which you may be able to offer as an individual. GDPR regulations must be kept to, and social media accounts like Twitter and Instagram are a grey area in this respect.
Closing a social enterprise leaves you with the question of what has been learned, and there are lessons for the company as well as for you personally as an entrepreneur. I would encourage you to take time to work these out. You will have learned a lot. The hard thing is deciding what you are going to develop next.
Speaking to mentors who have gone through a similar journey of exiting their company and moving on to develop a freelance career, there is a need to wrap up the project well, to ‘tell a good story’ as one person put it. Freelance career options are an appealing next step to use all the skills that you have gained, as you will have picked up valuable skills that can be offered as a consultant. Alternatively, if you want to specialize and offer a specific skill set, a job within a start up is a good option, particularly for those with technical, finance, business development or sales expertise.
The broad range of skills that you have acquired makes you good at seeing the big picture. The question is what did you enjoy the most, and where did you find yourself most in flow as an entrepreneur? For myself I learnt communications skills, writing skills and I learnt how much I rely on the right hand side of my brain. I hope all these stand me in good stead in the future.
In terms of the learning that you have developed as a company – be generous. There may be organisations that will benefit from consulting or mentoring once you have processed your learnings. There may be other ways that you can contribute. Continue to think of this as part of your company legacy. That’s what I wanted to do in writing this article, and the other reports, commissioned to be shared by our funders, Paul Hamlyn Foundation. I hope to be bold and continue to share the legacy of this amazing journey.
If you’re interested in finding out more about Hannah’s journey with Mental Snapp, you can read her full report here.