The Other Side Of Startups: Why It's Not All T-Shirts And Rainbows
There's a predominant tech culture in our notification-addicted society.
The Internet has revealed a door to the world for which we've all been waiting. It's a door that enables us to do absolutely whatever we want at any time. We can say whatever we want, show people whatever we want and create anything we can imagine.
The result is the trending wave of tech startups, and everything that has defined the term “startup founder.” It's the perception of young billionaire hackers who only wear hoodies and Converse sneakers.
This is how we look at tech startup founders, and speaking on my own behalf, it's not exactly that easy to get there.
While tech is undoubtedly the most lucrative industry at the moment, it's definitely one filled with risk and uncertainty.
Almost 10 months ago, I had a vision of people actively using apps and sites that somehow brought them into the real world. I despise the fact that people spend so much time behind a screen in their homes.
Go meet someone face to face. Leave your laptop alone and go try something new in the world.
So, I had this outlandish idea for a location-based social network, which would start my journey into entrepreneurship.
Growing up, I advocated for tech and was fascinated by what a product could to do to change lives if people really loved it. I followed in the footsteps of those who I admired and dropped out of college. I had this fire driving me and I wasn't about to let that die out.
I moved to New York and began working with a software development team after raising capital from investors. After months and months of hard work, we showed the product to users, and they didn't understand how to even use the thing.
It was like getting slapped across the face by some chick you've been in love with for years. It was not easy to take rejection for the first time.
I was thinking to myself, “What the f*ck?” We changed our direction based on feedback and started focusing on what the users did like.
I ended up leaving New York and taking a leap of faith by going to Silicon Valley. I found out about this program for entrepreneurs called Draper University. I wanted a network, knowledge and opportunity, and this was the place to be.
I dove in headfirst and applied for the program. I had booked the flight before even being accepted and told myself if I didn't get in, I would show up and convince them to let me in. I ended up getting in, though. There's always a way.
Draper University was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Like-minded people from 16 different countries, who I will probably keep in touch with for the rest of my life, surrounded me.
But, during the program, I was overwhelmingly busy and the company was out of money.
I split up with one of my cofounders; one of my developers quit, and I had a sh*t product with an identity crisis. I was going through a black hole for months. Everyone around me had all these cool products and companies, and I was failing fast and hard in silence.
I kept moving forward every day, even when I didn't want to.
Some nights I was worried, but I never doubted my ability to make things happen. I had one cofounder, no money and a vision no one will ever take away. My support system helped to keep me going.
A few months later, I now have the most incredible team, for which I am forever grateful. We've raised more capital from investors and launched a new version of an app called ImDown on the App Store (it's awesome).
It's a spin-off of the initial idea and is already growing quicker than we expected.
Things came together because I didn't give up. Sticking with something changes everything.
This life is a roller coaster. It's not as lavish as people make it out to be, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. You just have to hustle and roll with the punches when they come. You'll have the best and worst days of your life, but still, stick with it.
Surrounding yourself with good people, at all times, will change your life. I'm nowhere near the end, but I'm in this for the journey.
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