On September 8th, 2021 the digital news site Vigeur published a story about how cancer costed Allan Mørch, CEO and Founder of AskCody the investment of his life. Not long after on September 27th, 2021 Computerworld also picked up the story and wrote three chapters explaining his lifechanging journey. The story was only featured in Danish, so you can get a recap of the story right here.
Allan Mørch, and his brother Steffen Mørch had been on a 14-day work trip to Orlando, Florida for negotiation with investors. They currently had an 80% growth rate, a breakthrough in the US, and went home with the biggest investment ever, with deals for more than $10 million. That day was, after many years as an entrepreneur, a dream come true for Allan.
Allan and Steffen Mørch on their trip
However, on his way home he had the time to consider that he had been having a sore throat for a few days. He regarded it as a side effect to the 100 hours workweeks he had put in, the pressure he had been under, and the lack of sleep. But he started feeling worse and worse on the flight home.
When he finally got home to his family be followed his 2-year-old son to a doctor’s appointment and decided to get himself checked too. The doctor was not in doubt. It was cancer.
“I thought, shut up, of course I do not have cancer. I just raised 10 million dollars, and we are going to embark on a growth adventure. I cannot have cancer. That cannot possibly be happening” Allan remembers thinking.
At the office he had ten new employees to greet, a new management group to take care of as well as a board meeting waiting, but that never happened, because the doctors had no need for more tests. Allan had cancer. More specifically, Allan had a lump the same size of a golf ball in his throat, even more lumps in his lungs, and one the size of a tennis ball behind his heart. All the while, Allan was asking the doctors if anything could be postponed not truly getting the seriousness of the unrealistic situation, he suddenly found himself in.
“At that point the doctor told me straight out that I should start planning my own funeral, and if I did not start treatments right away it was in a matter of weeks”
So, the day after Allan had to inform his board and the American investors. Everyone was in shock, but the investors were not in doubt. They invested in the person behind AskCody as much as the company itself. It was over.
Now, Allan’s Lymphoma had broken his dreams. It was a special type of cancer that did not give symptoms until it was almost too late. It had already spread to his bones. He now had stage four cancer.
In the following six weeks Allan had intensive chemo treatments and cannot really remember anything from that time besides the smell of it. However, after that period they finally had their first good news. The treatments were working, and they could turn it down a nudge. However, that was when the difficult personal times for Allan began, because at that time Allan could see himself in his physical decay. No hair on his head and a weight loss of 20 kilos.
“I felt terrible and looked terrible. I tried to show up at work every second week refusing to be a cancer patient. Trying to prove to myself that I could but of course I could not. That resolved in my identity crisis. I felt completely inefficient in my role in the company. I felt inadequate as a husband and father. I had spent ten years building an identity as a contractor and entrepreneur, and I came as close to succeeding in doing what I have always dreamed of. We actually had a signed agreement. We had popped the champagne. And then it was all taken away from me anyway” says Allan.
The following time was spent in and out of the hospital, and depression hit so hard that in the end, he and his doctors decided to end the chemo treatments. After that he decided to completely pull the plug. That was when things finally turned, because at that time the cancer was finally loosening its hold on him. Now, he was ready to find himself and his company again, and for his welcome back, his brother Steffen had an investor deal on $10 million ready from a venture fond in New York, so they could continue the growth journey.
…And then. Yes, you probably know. The covid-19 pandemic began, and several countries closed down. Also, all investments in the New York fond.
For a company making its living on people having meetings that was a difficult time. For AskCody that meant a full restructuring, and the 50 employees were cut down to 30. It was time for a new strategy focusing on profitable operation and building a healthy business rather than growth. Fortunately, covid-19 then started being about getting back together, and that in an everyday where technology is at its essence which meant that AskCody again had a big role in people’s life’s.
“We might go out and raise extra capital to accelerate growth, but it is not certain. Maybe we decide that organic growth is more fun to be in. We are growing for our own money right now and it feels great. For me it is more about the process of getting there, and the collaboration with amazing organizations and talented employees is what counts” says Allan Mørch.
The AskCody team
For Allan his life is now about focusing on training, rehabilitation, and prioritizing himself. Life in the aftermath has proven to have many problems that he has learned to live with, but it also gave him time to recognize what is truly important.
“My values are different now. It is the human relations that really count. And it is about listening to my own judgement. My worldview has gotten a twist. Because at the end of the day, it is just really nice to sing for my son, Alfred before he goes to sleep - or have the time to eat strawberry yoghurt and see cartoons in the morning before I go to work. I am still an entrepreneur and a contractor. But I guess most importantly I am just a human being.”