When Nick Wernimont asked VC Mike Apostal to join his meal-delivery company in 2015, Apostal was excited. He saw real potential in Factor 75, now known as four-time Inc. 5000 honoree Factor. The Chicago-based business was bringing in only $500,000 in annual sales, but after engaging in some due diligence, Apostal agreed to invest and assume the role of COO. He knew he'd be facing a challenge. What he didn't expect was the size of the challenge -- or the tragedy -- that lay on the road ahead.-As Told to Rebecca Deczynski

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