How One Entrepreneur Overcame Addiction and Started a Company

Photograph by Emily Field

When Adam Kinyon was fifteen years old, a serious car accident left him on the cusp of life and death, with twenty three broken bones to prove it.

At the time, paramedics and police summoned Kinyon’s parents to say goodbye to their son, not expecting he would make it.

But Kinyon survived, remarkably.

After three weeks in the intensive care unit, followed by three months of intensive physical therapy and recovery, Kinyon returned to his teenage life in suburban New Orleans.

However, the reality that Kinyon would return to was far from normal.

Prior to his accident, Kinyon had been dabbling in intense partying. As the son of two former addicts, he says he was always aware that addiction ran in his family, but never thought that he would be affected by his genetic predisposition.

But after receiving a large financial settlement from the nearly fatal car accident, Kinyon says his partying habits spun out of control. As a freshman at Tulane University at the time, he described himself as “a destructive Tasmanian devil force.”

“I was the very stereotypical, shameless addict,” Kinyon says.

Things took a turn for the worst when Kinyon began selling drugs and was arrested and later charged with a DUI and reckless driving. He received two years probation and a charge of possession with intent to distribute. He was told that any following offense would land him in Angola prison for fifteen years.

That was the wakeup call that Kinyon had desperately needed.

“It was the combination of seeing that I was inches away from throwing away all of my potential, the threat of going to prison, and the sudden moment of honesty with myself in knowing that I was a drug addict and an alcoholic,” Kinyon says.

Faced with the daunting reality of what life would become if he continued on the same path, Kinyon knew he needed to make a change. He wanted to forge a new path for himself.

“It was shortly after that I had decided to come clean with myself, my lawyer and my parents,” Kinyon says. I refused to make the same mistakes my mother had made throughout her whole life. I know what the bad side of addiction looks like,” Kinyon said.

Kinyon has been sober for two years. After that defining moment, Kinyon shifted into entrepreneurial gear. He took the remainder of the money from his settlement and put it to work on an idea that his friend Nick Bennett had approached him about.

Bennett had dreamed up an app for a memory sequencing game in which players control a vehicle with a customizable car scheme that moves through a 3D physics imposed landscape. In the game, a camera sits above the car, which reaches a series of traffic lights. The lights are a flashing combination of red, yellow and green, which generate a sequence that the player must input in the same order to continue. If the gamer inputs the traffic light sequence correctly, they continue and advance to the next level.

“Memory Lanes initially started out as an idea. We played around with it, and it ended up being a distinct, weird, and maybe divine sequence of events that consistently led us to keep pursuing the idea,” Kinyon says.

What is unique about Memory Lanes is that co-founders Kinyon and Bennett, and their team of developers at jeniusLogic, discovered a way to host native advertisements within the game’s interface in a way that has not yet been done. That means that rather than users being barraged with pop-up ads, the ads can be placed on the game’s imposed landscape, on buildings, roads, etc.

When one of Memory Lanes’ developers was invited to attend the Apple Keynote Conference in San Francisco last June, he met with leaders of the Apple TV team who set up a strategy for the app to be released on Apple TV and iOS.

Memory Lanes was picking up momentum.

With that move, Kinyon and his team began to dig deeper into development. As of now, the Memory Lanes app has contractually sold 70 percent of the game’s ad space to big names like Starbucks, Sephora, Walgreens, and AutoZone, before launching this April.

Kinyon says collaboration has been key to the early success of Memory Lanes. The Memory Lanes team is comprised of Kinyon, Bennett, and developers in New Orleans, Miami and the Bay Area.

“What’s amazing is that there are so many different intelligent, innovative people brainstorming. It’s elevated Memory Lanes to a level that I honestly had no idea we could get to,” Kinyon said.

And the journey is just beginning for the young entrepreneur who will be graduating from Tulane University in May with a B.A. in Economics.

After Memory Lanes launches, the team will be primarily focusing on marketing the app. Kinyon says the moments that took him from addiction to recovery to launch were nothing short of divine intervention.

“It’s a controversial thing to say, like ‘Yeah, that time I got those two felonies was the best thing to ever happen to me’ but I believe it. I ended up getting sober at 19-years-old. Any and everything good that I have in my life would not have been possible without doing so,” Kinyon says.

*Editorial Note: This story originally stated that Kinyon created the idea for Memory Lanes. Nick Bennett created the original idea and it was developed together by co-founders Bennett and Kinyon.

Emily Field

Emily Field writes about the real experiences of entrepreneurs in New Orleans. ​She is currently a senior at Tulane University double majoring in Communications and Political Science with a minor in Spanish.

4 Comments
  1. Great story. I used to tend this kid when he was four. To see he has come this far and overcome all these hurdles is amazing. Glad to see he is on the right path and look forward to seeing him graduate in May.

  2. Glad to see Adam is doing well. I used to tend him when he was four. To see him overcome these hurdles and come out ahead is amazing. I look forward to seeing him graduate in May.

  3. This article is beautifully written! Honest and powerful! Who knows how many people will be inspired and hopeful due to this story.

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