It feels only appropriate to write something today. Today is the first work day I haven't had a place to go work from in about four years.
I joined Affinity Lab at the beginning of 2011. It was the only game in town back then. There was a waiting list and I had to apply for membership. The prospect of working from home was terrifying. I had tried it before and the result was being incredibly unproductive and depressed. Working from home wasn't (and still isn't) an option.
I didn't warm up to Affinity Lab right away. I had an incredibly stressful test drive (a day where you go and spend it there to see how well you like it and how much people liked you). I couldn't parallel park and didn't have enough time to get to a metro with normal parking beforehand. So off I went driving down to U St with hope and a prayer that a really easy parking spot would be somewhere in the vicinity. I had even considered not going because of this.
But I got lucky that day. There was a spot right on the corner I could pull into and Affinity Lab turned out to be the best decision I've made in my DC life.
The test drive was ok, I really don't remember anything that happened day, but it went well enough for me to want to make it a regular thing. Although, I parked in Bethesda and took the Metro in for the next six months or so because of my fear of parallel parking.
Bowling with Pierre, Greg, Berit, Joey, Philippe, Olivia, Stephanie, Ambica, Mike, Sarah, Joe, Grant
The first real day I remember there was bowling night. I was in a space where people were all doing their own thing(s) but collaborating and having fun together. When this photo was taken, I don't think I really knew anyone well. But it was my first chance to really talk to many or most of them. And looking back at the picture now, I keep in touch with nearly all of them despite most of them leaving Affinity Lab in the years since that picture was taken.
Bowling Night was the first of many nights (and for those of you that know me, I only function at night). Movie night (a personal favorite of mine), laser tag night, the annual tubing trip, board game night, happy hours and many others.
Affinity Lab quickly became my social life and friend group, as well as my office. For any fellow entrepreneurs out there, many probably sympathize with the difficulty of maintaining non-entrepreneurial friendships. Your personal life often becomes synonymous with your business life. It's hard to explain or justify it to people who don't get it. I never had to explain or justify it here though. It was implicit. Everyone understood and was going through or had been through the same or similar experiences. I was surrounded by people like me and I was happy.
I met a lot of really amazing people over the 4 years at Affinity Lab. I am lucky enough to consider many of them my good friends. I wouldn't have been able to launch my startup, Review Signal, without the direct and indirect support of the people I met at Affinity. I wouldn't have more than half the clients I've had over the years if it weren't for the mailing list and leads fellow members shared. I'm not sure I would have reached the same level of success in my professional life without Affinity Lab.
So today is an incredibly sad day. Affinity Lab has shut its doors forever and DC has lost an entrepreneurial landmark. The silver lining is that over the past 13 years Affinity Lab had some of the best and brightest minds comes through, learn, share and make the world a better place. It's legacy is now in the hands of those alumni. It's a great responsibility to carry, but if anyone is up to the challenge, it's them.
I've included all the pictures that were running on the slideshow in the lab below to remember what it was like: