February 22, 2024

Why did our founding team move to Chattanooga, Tennessee?

Jake Gutstein
Jake Gutstein

Since we accepted their offer, people are asking me why Zest chose Brickyard over other competing term sheets. Brickyard’s terms are contingent on my team relocating to Chattanooga, Tennessee, a city that none of us had a connection to, for a least a year. In that time, we must work inside of Brickyard’s facilities. Moving from building primarily remotely to in-person (requiring all of us to leave our cities of origin) is quite a change but there are three primary reason we did it: attaining radical focus, putting ourselves in a position to get lucky, and feeling like we did everything we could do to achieve success.

Being able to separate ourselves from the typical noise of life and unwaveringly concentrate was a major factor in our decision to join The Yard. Going into Chattanooga, our team was distributed across New York, Austin, and Los Angeles. These are all great cities for building a consumer subscription app. They formed a powerful starting point for us as we built the foundation of a venture backed business. At this point in Zest’s journey, we have proven that people are willing to pay to learn how to cook. What we now must do is perfect the product we have built to match this consumer demand. We are at a point where the team felt we needed to divorce ourselves from the distracting elements of startup life that don’t move the needle. Nowhere could we do this more effectively than Brickyard.

Brickyard also allows our team to best control the elements of the founding journey that we can. I am a firm believer that the leading cause of people not pursuing their own venture is ambiguity aversion, rather than risk aversion. One cannot fully control a successful outcome but can control the inputs along the journey. Our team had high conviction that being in Brickyard did not only divorce us from the noise factors of building but also helped to make clear the elements of our journey within our control.

Overall, controlling for input puts the Zest team in a position to get lucky. We have the privilege to work around a collection of accomplished, brilliant people who think about building similarly to how we, as a team, do. As a result of our decision, spontaneous moments will no doubt arise. It is within this unknown where our team believes true opportunity lies.

The last important reason why choosing Brickyard made the most sense is that, right now, Zest is at a place as a business where all that matters are quality shots on goal to help our customers make progress. Our entire team is now all in the same place, away from noise, which allows us to take better swings faster. We can prioritize the areas of Zest that lead to the greatest step change improvements in the lives of the people who use our product. Brickyard makes this particularly easy having everything from office equipment to a full gym. Overall, our team viewed Brickyard as a sort of maximalist approach to our stage of company building. We feel confident that we have acted in such a way that will never leave a “what if” on our journey.

Success is dictated by controlling input. There is too much ambiguity in early stage company building to be beholden to output. Given that this is the case, it is critical to prioritize and act in the most effective way possible, given the present available information. Brickyard has given our team the confidence to act from a position of strength with the best information we have available to make the best possible decisions moving forward.