Why I Turned Down an Accelerator to Walk My Kids to School


walking to school

A few months back, I applied for my startup, DoItInPerson.com, to join a prestigious accelerator program. I waited eagerly to hear back from them to see if I’d made it to round two of the judging process. Last week I received an email at 10 pm, informing me that I had been selected to be interviewed for a chance to be part of the final round of judging. Being that I was in another state, they asked me to conduct the interview via Skype the next morning at 8:30 am and requested that I send the documents to be discussed ASAP: my PowerPoint presentation and any other documents I might feel appropriate.

I didn’t see the email until I was awakened the next morning by a phone call at 7:30 am from the founders of the accelerator asking me to please send the documents right away so that they could review them prior to the 8:30 Skype call. They loved the business and were excited to hear more.

That week had been a very busy one for me as I had been out Monday and Tuesday nights running events. I have 2 children at home under the age of 5 and another on the way. The kids were upset that they didn’t get to say good night to me and I could only imagine how my wife, entering her 9th month of pregnancy, felt about me being out every night. Earlier in the week, I had promised my children that I would walk them to school that Wednesday morning. Both kids love taking me into their classrooms and showing me their projects and their class’s pet caterpillars, which were turning into butterflies.

So as I spoke to the founder of the accelerator, I asked if we could reschedule for later that day as the call would be at the exact time that I would need to walk my children to school. They told me that it was their last available slot and that they needed to finalize all interviews that day. With a hint of regret, I responded that I couldn’t take the call that morning and I would try them at any point that day, even if they had just five minutes free, to which they responded that that wasn’t an option. They went on to remind me that this was my one and only chance to be part of this incredible opportunity and that if I couldn’t make this call, I was turning them down, which wouldn’t look good, should I choose to apply again in the future.  I repeated my decision and wished them the best of luck with their upcoming class of companies.

Many people will tell me I am crazy and as an entrepreneur, I need to focus on my company for 3-5 years so that I can make the money I need, take it easy for the rest of my life and have family time then. Most entrepreneurs also devote 24/7 to their businesses and put their lives on the backburner while they give it everything they have got. This is important and it is what most investors would love to see.

At the same time, it is important to remember that as hard as you are working and as much as you are sacrificing for your business, your family sacrifices for you as well. Whether it is the nights you spend at events, traveling for meeting, late nights working on the business or phone calls and emails during family time or vacations, these are not easy on everyone around you. Yes, we live in a 24/7 society where the lines between personal time and work have gotten blurred, but there are always certain moments that can define which comes first: being the CEO of your family or CEO of your company. As important as this accelerator was, breaking a promise to my children would have had a longer and lasting effect on the things that are most important to me. There will always be another accelerator, but there is not always going to be another great moment with your family.

As Ferris Bueller said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Reprinted by permission.

About the author: Aron Schoenfeld

Aron Schoenfeld has made a name for himself in New York City and across the country as a serial entrepreneur. Aron focuses his energy on companies in the idea and seed stages and develops unique approaches for quantifiable development. With that skill, coupled with his extensive professional network, Aron has a proven track record of success. His current project, DoItInPerson.com, a new event platform that brings all of the fragmented pieces of the event space under one roof to make it easier for organizers to create, manage and promote their events. Aron has an MBA from Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College and is a member of the Young Entrepreneurs Council, an organization comprised of hundreds of America’s most successful young entrepreneurs.

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