The Advocate

by Enrique Bay

Deciding to start a company is one thing; actually starting it is another. The decision can happen while on an optimistic buzzy brain over a few beers; bringing it to life might take years and will undeniably affect your life. For me, it’s the most difficult experience I’ve gone through and not for the obvious reasons.

Starting a company is a tough psychological journey full of uncertainty and fear. It’s a lonesome and long road for which you can prepare only so much, and one in which you can control much less than you think before going into.

But if there’s a thing one can influence on, it’s the people you surround yourself with, and the hope they are the right ones to help you through the journey. For me, one of those was Jim Maxmin.

Since starting Kiwi, Jim evolved from a business partner and advisor, to a friend and the closest thing I’ve had to a psychologist.

I met Jim through the LEGATUM Center while at MIT, but became close through Demeter, an effort he started to help entrepreneurs around the world through mentorship and support services.

For the last two years, I had a 15–90 min call every one or other week with Jim. The topics of conversation ranged from my personal and family’s well being and tactics to improve my habits, to dreaming of taking Kiwi around the world and the strategy to achieve it. Unlike the usual quiet me, it was a conversation I looked forward to and one I entered into without fear of being judged or reprimanded on.

If there were good news to talk about, the focus was on how to replicate and improve what went well; if it was a bad time, there were words of encouragement, moments of reflection, and an actionable strategy to get through it. If I was going through a psychological me-against-the-worldphase, I could always count on Jim to be on my side.


email from Jim after a confirmed investment in Kiwi

Jim redefined my idea of a mentor, and he made good for the definition of advocate. If more than a week went by without a chat, I could expect the usual empty email with a subject line of “want to talk this week?”; followed by something like “Are you and the family safe from this monster ? Talk anytime you are ready” when a hurricane was passing through Mexico.

Even after all his business and life experience, Jim’s head was still full of dreams. He had an unmatched passion to help others succeed which he now vented through Demeter, a rising startup on its own.

A few weeks ago, we talked about how much fun the last couple of years had been, how much we’d learned. We talked about having a team retreat in his home state of Maine, or for my family and I to visit over the summer. Many plans left on hold, many things left over for the world to benefit from Jim.

I will treasure our conversations, remember his candid advice, and hope to one day leave a fraction of the impact he left in many of us through a selfless interest to help others succeed. Rest in peace my friend, we’ll miss you.

This Story was originally published by Enrique Bay on Medium