Thank you to Sam Decker and Openview partners for having me on their Founder's Corner show. Sam is a remarkable entrepreneur himself and a great interviewer! Original post here.
Before turning 30, Evan Baehr had graduated magna cum laude from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School, Yale’s Divinity School, and Harvard’s Business School. He’d worked as a legislative aide for Congressman Frank Wolf, served as an advisor for PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, and been offered a full-time job by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg two years before the social network went public. Had Baehr accepted that offer, his financial and professional future would have likely been secure.
But Baehr chose a different path.
In 2011, he called Sandberg to tell her he was turning down her offer to instead found Outbox, an ambitious startup aimed at disrupting the antiquated mail delivery model by building a new, digital version of it. Initially, the company received a lot of hype and attention (as well as investment capital from tech luminaries like Mike Maples and Peter Thiel), but Outbox folded in 2013 after it became obvious that the company’s business model — and its partnership with the government — was untenable.
Like many great entrepreneurs, however, Baehr and his co-founder Will Davis didn’t view that failure as a dead end.
In fact, within a few weeks, they’d taken the company’s team (and what was left of the $5 million it had received in outside funding) and spun it into an entirely new venture — a small business fundraising platform they called Able Lending. Watch the video below to hear Baehr explain when (and why) he realized Outbox needed to pivot, why he still believes turning down Facebook was the right decision, and what he learned from Peter Thiel about embracing irrationality and attacking narrow markets.