Today a chapter of my life is being closed, after a long agonising wait, in part due to Covid. My old company Venice Kayak is about to be closed for good.
I started Venice Kayak in 2008, incorporated it in 2011 and for a while it was quite a success with four, five, six employees doing three or four tours each day for the entire season.
It was good fun, quite a satisfaction, but there’s an end to everything.
Today I removed the last impediment for the final closure of the company by paying the remaining debts dating back to 2018.
The company has been in liquidation for about two years, but couldn’t be definitively closed due to unknown debts to the tax authorities. I’ve finally managed to get the necessary documents from them to be able to close the accounts and pay the outstanding bits.
The first setback came in 2015 when the city introduced some rather draconic restrictions on kayaking in the city canals. I managed to obtain some meetings with the commissioner running the city (the mayor had resigned due to a corruption charge), and in the end he modified the rules in a way that didn’t impede business much.
In the middle of the 2018 season, without any kind of warning, the city issued new extremely restrictive rules on kayaking in Venice, and almost shut the business down within a few days. I took the city to court, and won, but we had already lost half the season and the company’s economy suffered as a consequence.
With the win in court we embarked on the 2019 season in good spirit, but in the spring the city administration issued basically the same restrictive rules, with just a few details changed. I took them to court again, and would probably have managed to alleviate the worst had I taken it all the way.
Part of the reason why I threw in the towel, was that I as a single individual cannot fight a city administration with the resources of hundreds of thousands tax payers. If they want to kill my business, there’s very little I can do. The choice is really one of how much time, money and energy I’d accept to lose before giving up. The final outcome is a given.
I have to pay my lawyer for every law suit, while I also have to pay my part of the other side’s expenses. They could bleed my dry easily.
The other reason was more personal. My in-laws both became very ill in the summer of 2019, and we moved them to our home to care for them better. As the main income at that point was my wife’s, I stayed home to look after them, and thereby neglected attempts at salvaging the business.
Both my in-laws died in early 2020, leaving my wife devastated by the double loss. Then we ended up in lockdown due to the Covid pandemic.
The current Venice Kayak
In the autumn of 2019 I established a new Venice Kayak with another stakeholder as majority partner. This is the company still operating under the Venice Kayak brand.
I initially had a minority stake in the new company, but later decided to pull out completely due to the difficult family situation.
The new company is still there, and I believe they’re doing quite good business, which is great.
A couple of my old employees are working for the new company, which is even greater.