shocker: it's been months + life has changed yet again

 

Hey friends! It's been FOREVER since I've updated ya'll on what's going on in my life. Part of the reason that I struggle to post blogs is because on a day-to-day basis, my life actually pretty much feels the same. But then I look back and think "WHOA, WHO WAS I SIX MONTHS AGO??"

An update on my spring 2017 competition season

The last time I posted on here, my BLOOM co-founder and I were halfway through competition and boy did we put in some hours. Good news: in April we were awarded THIRD PLACE in High Growth Undergraduate Technology @ Love's Entrepreneurs Cup. Mind you, this was a HUGE state-wide college competition with over 50 teams and lots of cash prizes. EEP! It's December right now and I'm still screaming about it!

After that competition, I was pretty much on cloud 9. Then shortly after, my co-founder and I pitched BLOOM at TCU's Values & Ventures Competition and completely blew it. Don't get me wrong, we pitched extremely well. But no longer were we in Indian Territory, Oklahoma - where at least some people understand the importance of native language. I'm not gonna lie, I was pretty disappointed in how the competition went. But the good part was that I still experienced a fun (and free) weekend in Dallas, I met amazing people, and ate so much great food. I think the loss was good too. I think we needed to be knocked down with BLOOM. We were doing so well and that competition was what really grounded us.

An update on BLOOM's summer 2017

The first part of the summer was spent working on BLOOM through the OU Launch Pad Accelerator program. In it, we received $10,000 and invaluable mentoring over the course of a few weeks. Had we not been through this program, BLOOM wouldn't be where it is today; so I'm very thankful. And other than waking up extremely early, I really loved the program lol. During the accelerator, Jen and John joined our team as full-stack engineers. Shortly after, Issa joined as our CSS engineer, and Bri as our head of curriculum. It was also during this time that we landed our first partnership ever with Cherokee Nation! Long story short: BLOOM grew pretty fast.

An update on BLOOM's fall 2017 & present

Jeez. I really need to write on here more! Lol. Last October, my co-founder decided that he needed to exit. Though I would argue that mentally, he had left long before then. This was a big blow to the team('s future). For a moment, I felt like BLOOM didn't have legs anymore. I wasn't sure where it was going, and I feared that all of our work would just hop down the drain. BLOOM's near crumbling was yet another lesson that we needed though in order to really grow. This was the moment that truly tested us. It instilled fear in us. But it didn't break us. We kept going. We came out on the other side in one piece. I couldn't ever ask for more.

So where is BLOOM now? Well, we're building pretty aggressively and quietly too. We've made a few announcements here and there (mostly when we've had to). But what I love about our style is that we never quite share *everything*. All the good stuff will be shared when the time is right - I promise, ya'll. At moment, our biggest focus is just prepping for our 2018 launch. No distractions. Just heads down. Working.

An update on me, a person who does things outside of work

Outside of BLOOM, my life has been equally interesting. Almost everyone I've talked to has mentioned how 2017 dogged them in some way. I would probably say the same about me. I honestly try to think back on this year and everything kind of feels like a big blur outside of a few shining (and not-so-shining) moments. That could just be my bad memory though - after all it is 2AM right now.

This year was good and bad and a solid mix of everything in between. This was a year where I latched on, let go, and became free all in one damn sitting. It was a year of growing, shrinking, and blooming again in ways that felt more right the second time around.

In my last post I said: 

"I guess that's how life works sometimes; the good stuff - you hold onto it tight. The hard stuff? You learn, and you grow, and continue living and believing in a brighter future. I know I did, and I know I always will." 

That quote still rings very true to me. I'm sure I'll look back one day and say "2017 was everything I friggin needed". Until then, I'll just keep it moving.

- Carey J Flack

 

Update: I'm halfway through competition season + still alive!

 

Wow ya'll ~ life has been a whirlwind of (both über exciting and really, really tiring) stuff over the last few weeks! And I'm super thankful for all of it. Where do I even start? 

First, in March, I was notified of my acceptance into the YP4 (Young People For) 2017 cohort where I will be navigating the intersection between technology, creativity, and justice. And on July 24th, I will be off to PHILLY for the first time ever to get trained as a better advocate for justice. I'm so, so excited and thankful for this opportunity to learn, and see, and build with people who want to change the world. I can't wait to share what I'm working on too. But I'm even more excited because this is my FIRST fellowship EVER! 

Okay, what else. So the last time ya'll read my blog, you saw that I went out on a limb by first moving on from Roomswap and then phasing into my second startup, BLOOM. Well, I can't speak entirely too soon, but I'd like to think that this risk has paid off immensely. My teammate Ryan and I have been working our butts off on BLOOM since October. Right now, it's competition/funding season and we're finally seeing the fruits of our blood, sweat, and tears actually come to life. 

First, we got accepted into OU's Innovation Fund, where we got received over $1,000 to test and validate BLOOM. Next, we got accepted into OU's Summer Launch Pad accelerator, where we will receive an abundance of incubator-style mentoring AND $10,000 in cash. Lastly, we made it to the state-wide Love's Entrepreneurs Cup competition where last Thursday we beat out two more teams during our oral presentation and made it to the top 6. This week, we find out our status as top 3. 

Although it may sound like much of this success has suddenly showered down on team BLOOM (and myself, in my personal life), it has truly taken 5 months of pivots, 80 pages of business plan writing, the juggling of both school and work, restless nights, tons of advice from our incredible mentors, twitching eyelids (seriously lol), and a few times of us bickering like hell because, well, we hadn't slept properly in days. Last month, we had to prepare for all of these opportunities, and agreed that, on top of other outside-of-BLOOM "life" duties, it was the hardest we'd ever worked in our lives. 

 
 Me and my teammate Ryan @ Love's Cup Day 2 with our BLOOM mentors Doug and Dr. Busenitz!

Me and my teammate Ryan @ Love's Cup Day 2 with our BLOOM mentors Doug and Dr. Busenitz!

I'm sharing all of this with you not because I'm a huge bragger (okay, maybe just a little..) but because when I first thought about post-grad life, I was pretty afraid. I had absolutely no idea what this shift in my life would look like. And although my parents keep pressuring me to go back to school (thanks mom and dad, it's only been 3 months!) I feel really proud of what my life is looking like these days. The last time I wrote on my blog, I could hardly imagine a life without Roomswap either. But I guess I've decided that I don't have to live a life without Roomswap; it's very much still present in my life. The lessons and the experiences still impact me today. And I still carry my Roomswap memories with me just like all of the new, upcoming experiences that I hope to carry with me too.

I guess that's how life works sometimes; the good stuff - you hold onto it tight. The hard stuff? You learn, and you grow, and continue living and believing in a brighter future. I know I did, and I know I always will. 

~ Carey J. Flack

Closing one Chapter, Opening Another

 

Hey friends, 

As you know I recently graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in Entrepreneurship (yay! and how new-agey) ~

As most of my Facebook friends know, navigating the entrepreneurship program was less than easy for me both academically and personally. I really value tech, and I also really, really value justice. For a long while, I worried that these two interests could never really meet.

Due to frustrated feelings and a whole lot of other "life" stuff, I decided to take a small hiatus from tech (and my startup Roomswap). That small break turned into a whopping 5 months of decompressing. Woo, does time fly.

I got so many questions from friends and family asking what happened to Roomswap; why I decided to take such a sudden break. All I am going to say is that I had to. I had to grow and re-evaluate my own definition of what it means to live. At the time I felt very stagnant, bored, frustrated, and pretty much every other feeling a founder gets when their company just isn't fitting in their growing life anymore. I was 2.5 years in, and my work with Roomswap no longer felt intentional.

I didn't want to get comfortable with that feeling.

Last December I graduated, ran back to Roomswap (and saved a student a few thousand), applied to over 40 jobs, and somehow managed to enjoy Christmas Break. I continued on with the business plan of another startup called BLOOM (surprise, surprise!) and went through a few very awkward interview processes (post-grad life!). 

I guess what I'm trying to say as subtly as possible is that I am phasing out of Roomswap. No, no, no, I am not just dropping it like a hot potato. Every since awhile, I will still complete a swap for a student. BUT I am no longer a student, and I am no longer the same 19 year old who started this company in her dorm room. I want to grow and try new things. I want to be unafraid of moving forward. Right now I'm really enjoying the new projects, ideas, and fresh feelings that this new chapter of experimentation and entrepreneurship is giving me. And although I'm not announcing too much right now, just know that I have a few things up my sleeve. ;)

I love Roomswap; it's my baby, and it's all I've ever known about entrepreneurship. But that's the thing: I want to know so much more. I hope that as I phase into this next life journey that you'll join me, you'll support me, and maybe even be excited for me (I know I am!). Beginning to turn the page of such a beautiful chapter in my life won't be easy. There are so many powerful memories attached. But like I said: I need to grow. I need to live.

I hope that by me being completely raw about this exciting and uncertain chapter inspires you to feel a little less fear in "going out on a limb". After all, that's how Roomswap started in the first place. And that's really how any exciting journey I've ever known has started too.

To new beginnings. To exciting chapters. Let's kick butt!

~ Carey J. Flack