One who fears failure limits his activities. Failure is only the opportunity to more intelligently begin again.
– Henry Ford
In April 2012, I ended up meeting with Aaron Roberts for lunch. I had just left BlackBerry for another position that didn't quite live up to my expectations. A few days prior, Aaron and I talked about a startup he was building called QThru. Before we got too far into lunch, I flat out asked him if he had room for another developer and we talked about how to proceed. After a quick meeting with the existing dev team, I walked away from a paying job with benefits to become the first, and currently unpaid, full time employee for QThru.
Honestly, this was the most fun I've had professionally. We spent the summer working from offices leased by other startups and coffee shops. We were free to experiment on how to produce a professional app with the smallest engineering team possible. Most of all, the technical employees became like family and had much more meaningful relationship that we would have had if we all remained at BlackBerry.
QThru is no longer alive. Everyone in the company was informed on 8 July 2013 that we had not received the latest tranche from our investor and that the company had no money for payroll. The company existed in this zombie like state until 30 September 2013 when the board voted to have the corporation file Chapter 7 bankruptcy. There was an effort by the investor to attempt to relaunch the company with a new CEO but after the Chapter 7 filing, the asserts became property of the courts and that effort ceased.
To this day, I get a lot of questions from people who want to build out a similar idea to QThru's self checkout solution. I don't have time to answer every email. Over the series of a number of blog posts, I'll document as best as I can recall what QThru was and what we had tried to build. Hopefully founders looking to jump into the same space can avoid our mistakes.