2 years ago Nate and I moved our family from Florida to Utah to build our dream company, Chatbooks. We loved living in our little beach town on the Space Coast, but there was something about the mountains that was calling us and we had to answer! Nate and I met in Utah 25 years ago while attending Brigham Young University. But life and work took us from Utah, to California, to Paris France, to Boston, to Connecticut and then to Florida. We loved every place we lived but Utah always had a special place in our hearts and we made a point of coming back to visit as much as we could. We love skiing the greatest snow on Earth in the winter here and the summers are pretty incredible too. During our visit over the past several years we began to notice and fall in love with something else here. There is a real palpable entrepreneurial spirit in Utah. One colleague even describes it as a “buzz” (did you know that the state emblem is a bee?!) In fact, the industry state is extremely business friendly and entrepreneurs of every shape and size have found success building businesses in Utah. We decided we wanted to be a part of this dynamic start-up scene so when our oldest child graduated from high school, we packed up the family and moved west and haven’t looked back since!
This past week we have reveled in the start-up spirit here during StartFEST. StartFEST is Utah’s largest grassroots startup festival. Its a action packed week of panels, speakers, workshops, and concerts with the goal of bringing together entrepreneurs and startups both old and new to promote and foster the local business-growing environment. Nate and I were invited to speak on a StartFEST panel about husband wife business partnerships called, “Sleeping with My Business Partner” where we got to share some of the things we love most about working together. (We kept it classy folks!) David and Holly Lesué of Stately Type were also on the panel moderated by Jeanette Bennett of Utah Valley Magazine. We had lots of fun talking about the myth of work/life balance and how Chatbooks is a family affair. (Our oldest children work for Chatbooks as well as one of my sisters!)
Then later that night we attended a awards ceremony for the Utah Venture Entrepreneur Forum. This was a true highlight of the week for us! Each year UVEF recognizes the top 25 companies in Utah based on the past three years of growth and last year’s revenue. The “Top 25 Under 5” award identifies the “most promising and engaging” companies less than 5 years old and ranks them based on growth rate and total revenue. We were absolutely thrilled when it was announced that we were #7 of the 25. After speaking for a few minutes about some lessons we’ve learned this past year we gathered everyone on our team that was there and took this picture.
Moving to Utah was the best first step in building Chatbooks. We are so grateful for this exciting and supportive start-up community and for our wonderful investors that have believed in us from the beginning and stuck by us. We are only getting started folks! Now that we’ve had a little taste of the spotlight we are bound and determined to work even harder this coming year to see if we can make it to #1!