How This Entrepreneur Dealt When Half of Her Team Quit 3 Days Before a Major Investment Deal Closed

Transparency, time and a little bit of wine helped Sampler founder and CEO Marie Chevrier find a way forward.

Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox

Stay informed and join our daily newsletter now!
Will be used in accordance with our Privacy Policy
How This Entrepreneur Dealt When Half of Her Team Quit 3 Days Before a Major Investment Deal Closed
Image credit: Courtesy of Marie Chevrier
4 min read

In the Women Entrepreneur series My Worst Moment, female founders look back on the most difficult, gut-wrenching, almost-made-them-give-up experience they’ve had while building their business -- and how they recovered.

One Friday three years ago, Marie Chevrier was gearing up to seal the deal on an investment in her early-stage startup Sampler, a company that matches product samples with target customers. The deal was slated to close that following Monday, on the condition that her tiny, remote two-person development team would soon relocate from Berlin, Germany, to Toronto, Canada, where she and her only other employee at the time were based. That day, over a phone call, her developers broke the news: They’d decided not to make the move, or, in other words, they resigned. Chevrier had a matter of hours to figure out how to break the news to her investors -- and a weekend to draft a plan B.

“I'm not at all a technical founder, so when I first started Sampler, I reached out to the only developers I knew in the entire world. We had previously worked together at Rocket Internet, a VC firm that's based out of Germany. Once Sampler started doing some fundraising, one of the things that kept coming up was that investors wanted the core team to be all together in Toronto. My two developers said they would likely be able to make the move from Berlin, but they had families. They weren't 100 percent sure they could do it.  

I remember it was a Friday, and our lawyers had just greenlit all the papers. I got a call from one of the [development] guys, and he said, 'Marie, I just want to be really honest. I don't think I'll be able to relocate.' It was really an admirable thing for him to do, because he could have certainly went on and not let me know his concerns.

Related: 20 Crazy, Outrageous, Sad and Infamous Last Days at Work

I remember at that moment just freaking out and thinking, ‘Well, this is it. The investors are definitely going to back out now that there's no technology team behind the tech company.’ It was a very stressful moment, and I remember thinking, 'Do I tell my investors that this is happening, or do I just close this and deal with it after?'  

I reached out to one of my trusted advisors at the time and asked him, 'What would you do? How would you present it to the investors?' He was like, 'You have to be transparent.' It was helpful to get some advice from other people who had gone through fundraising before.  

I decided that I was going to be transparent and very honest -- that's just how I was going to run my business. At that time, I reached out to our lead investor and told her, and obviously she was just as shocked as I was and definitely worried. I told her, ‘We have a transition plan, and we feel confident that, with the financing and the existing traction, we'll be able to attract great talent.' I reassured her that we would figure out a solution.  

She said, 'Take tonight and just have a glass of wine, and then deal with it tomorrow. But by Monday, you'll need to have a game plan.'

That's exactly what I did, and it taught me a pretty big lesson about how I should attack challenges: It's completely OK to take a day. It's OK to say, 'I have enough on my plate' or 'I need a small mental break.'

Related: After Crying 'in a Fetal Position' Upon the Sale of Her Last Company, This Entrepreneur Keeps Her New Venture Separate From Her Identity

By Monday, I had written a job description with the help of the guys. I had already negotiated a bit of a transition plan with them, which involved them training people remotely. We also went over the product roadmap. All the big features we’d been planning on releasing were to be taken care of by the guys. I owe that transition fully to them.

It was, all in all, a very positive experience, even if it didn't seem like that in the moment. But I would rather have people locally who are able to be there every day than to have a remote team. I think that would have limited our growth, so it was actually really nice that the investors had put that condition in place. It forced us to have these hard conversations early."

More From Women Entrepreneur

Company Culture

10 Successful Women Leaders Share What They Do to Create A Fantastic Work Culture

"Know yourself and your values, stick with them even if they are difficult," describes one leader. "Trustworthiness is the strongest foundation to build a strong work environment."
Growth Strategies

The Top 10 Mistakes That Keep Women Entrepreneurs From Scaling to $1 Million

Though women own 40 percent of U.S. businesses, making 'real money' is oftentimes more the exception than the rule. Here are some things getting in our way.
Women Entrepreneurs

Top 3 Obstacles Entrepreneurial Women Must Overcome

Hurdles still remain before females gain true parity in business.
Fashion

3 Alternatives to Traditional Work Trousers for the Female Entrepreneur

Comfortable, chic options that translate from the office to after-work cocktails with ease.

More from Entrepreneur

Get heaping discounts to books you love delivered straight to your inbox. We’ll feature a different book each week and share exclusive deals you won’t find anywhere else.
Jumpstart Your Business. Entrepreneur Insider is your all-access pass to the skills, experts, and network you need to get your business off the ground—or take it to the next level.
Starting, buying, or growing your small business shouldn’t be hard. Guidant Financial works to make financing easy for current and aspiring small business owners by providing custom funding solutions, financing education, and more.

Latest on Entrepreneur

Entrepreneur Media, Inc. values your privacy. In order to understand how people use our site generally, and to create more valuable experiences for you, we may collect data about your use of this site (both directly and through our partners). By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the use of that data. For more information on our data policies, please visit our Privacy Policy.