Rob Williams, one of the co-founders, of Dolphin Music, a UK based online retailer of music equipment, died in a skiing accident on Monday evening, in Verbier in the Swiss Alps. Mr Williams, aged 29, was on a weekend break, with a group of UK Entrepreneurs (Verbier: ICE 2009), and he along with his friend, and co-founder Jason Tavaria were separated from their group, on Monday afternoon, after some harsh weather conditions led to poor visibility.
The search for the two went out across Twitter, and with the help of the community, their phone number was located, and with their iPhone and Google Maps, which helped establish their co-ordinates, a search team was able to make their way to the co-ordinates that were communicated back.
Because of the harsh weather conditions, it was impossible to send out a helicopter rescue, and so the search teams went out on foot, to find the pair.
Unfortunately, Jason and Rob had gotten seperated from each other, and after Jason was found, safely, it took longer to find Rob, who unfortunately, didn’t make it.
It is a great loss to the UK’s Tech community, and my condolences go out to his family, and friends. I cannot imagine what it must be like for them, and can only pray and hope that they get through this eventually.
As tragic as this loss is, it could have so easily been any one of us, in the UK Tech Community. At 29, he had so much to live for, and so much of a life ahead of him, and being the same age, I realise just how little we can predict in life.
I hope and pray that his family get through this, with as much love, and support from the community as we can send to them. Our thoughts are with Rob and his family, and I just want to acknowledge, and thank the UK Tech community for choosing to abstain from publicly tweeting about this, until after his family had been informed. The solidarity shown by the community meant that his family didn’t have to hear about this from the TV, or read it in a newspaper, but were able to be told in person, before the news was publicly published, and acknowledged in the Twittersphere.
It goes to show that whilst it’s possible for news to be spread like wildfire, the community can also show restraint, where appropriate, and using the more private back channels, like DM’s, emails, and SMS, still serve to communicate, where appropriate, without the whole world being informed, until it’s appropriate to do so.
TechCrunch UK have written an excellent tribute to Rob, which summarises some of his many accomplishments, and achievements, and I’m going to duplicate it here. You can find the original here.
Rob launched Dolphin Enterprises – today one of the leading providers of musical equipment on the internet in the UK – with Jason while they were still at university in September 1999. Rob was originally responsible for creating Dolphin’s original php/MySQL web application and running its platform thereafter.
The pair had been friends since school in St Albans, selling everything from computer games to magazines to the other kids in the playground.
The two friends used their student loans to start the business. Like many typical startups they ran the business from home, but it has since grown to a staff of over 65 with turnover of £13m. In 2007 it was ranked Britain’s 11th fastest-growing company. They also opened retail stores in Liverpool, Gateshead and Huddersfield and had plans to expand into Europe and the Far East. Along with Jason, Rob was profiled in The Daily Telegraph in December last year. Dolphin Music was also presented with an award for Best Performing Business at the Kick Start Awards.
In December 2007 Dolphin Music was named in the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 list for the second year running. The Liverpool-based musical instrument retailer was listed as the 37th fastest growing company in the UK, and was the only retailer to appear in the list. Dolphin is also on Twitter.
Rob was a great supporter of schemes to help young people into the entrepreneurial life, supporting the government’s Make Your Mark initiative. He will be greatly missed by his family, friends and colleagues.
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