Starting up isn’t a glory path, it’s sweat, blood, and tears. And this blog is not about how awesome it is when your company got featured on TechCrunch, got million of dollars in the bank, or even went public. This post is for those who risk their time — even their life — to build a company, a product, a solution for us all.
And this post is not only for entrepreneurs, but all of those developers, designers, marketers — who were once in their life part of some amazing things.
The frustration with unconventional problems
I used to work in big corporations for four years — and we have problems to solve everyday, from how to meet the sales target to how to offer better customer service. However, my managers — most of the time — were the ones who pointed out the problems and/or the solutions to the team. I rarely saw any of my co-workers raise their hands up during the meetings unless the problems were affecting their own benefit or work.
People used to ask me: “Where did your idea of starting up come from?.” My answer to them was simple: “It’s from the frustration of my own unconventional problems, and when I can’t find the solutions to make me happy. Therefore, I decided to take my time out to solve it myself — and I also want to make this solution available to other people around me.”
The “Eureka” moment when you just want to jump out of the bathtub
For those who watched The Social Network, you probably remember the moment when a friend told Mark about his eagerness to find out his crush’s relationship status. That moment, Mark ran back to the lab and added “Relationship Status” to Facebook — the feature was available instantly and made Facebook instantly viral for stalking purposes.
Will a developer at a big company be willing to drop their fun time to run back to their computer and do something crazy like that? Or do you have to go through all of the proposal, approval, and quality control process to make your ideas become available to their beloved users?
The sleepless nights that no one asked you to do so
At 2-3 AM in the morning, two kinds of Facebook statuses will be posted from the office — either someone complaining about their overtime and workload, or the one about how excited they are about the projects that they’re working on. For some companies with overtime pay, people get paid double their regular pay rate. Yet they complain. On the other hand, many startup co-founders and developers voluntarily sleep in their labs and offices just because they want to save their commute time. They want to get to work right away the moment they wake up, on their next billion dollar ideas (hopefully).
If you walk into 444 Castro any night at 3 AM, you can probably find someone still staring at their code, their website, their pitch decks. We sleep because we have to, not because we want to — because there is nothing more inspiring than our own startup.
The rejections from your friends and family
This is probably the hardest thing that many entrepreneurs will have to overcome. Do you remember that friend, or the cousin whom you could count on in every party? They simply stopped responding to your WeChat, Viber, or Cubie the minute they found out you had quit your job to build your dream business. They simply didn’t want to be the one paying for your next tab.
If you ever thought that your millionaire uncle will give you a few thousand dollars to build a prototype product, forget it. The best he can do for you is not to tell your mom, your friends, and other relatives how irresponsible you are to quit your six-figure income job for a crazy idea. Therefore, in the next family gathering, as long as people still talk to you and ask how you are doing — thank God for that!
But don’t take it personally, they will all come back when you’re successful.
The moments when your bank account is $0
When you have the nine-to-five stable job, you won’t see your bank account in “low balance” too often. However, this happens all the time in startup life.
Esther Nguyen (POPS Media) — a respected female entrepreneur in Vietnam — shared in an interview: “Entrepreneurs are the series of moments that you think are going to die because out of breath but you know you can’t die yet.”(Sic)
Tracy Lawrence (Chewse) — the most unstoppable female entrepreneur in the #500STRONG family — shared on NAAAP stage: “I did not have my own place, surfing from one couch to another in months, including my friends, my mom, and other friends of friends”
For those who think these female entrepreneurs are crazy, they probably are. However, they’re one of a kind! They’re born to make this world a better place.
The unexpected moments of partnership and funding
I still can’t forget the moment my former Co-founder, Elliot Lee, called me and said: “Hey, Christine said WE’RE IN!” We were accepted in the most prestigious accelerator programme in the world — Are you kidding me?
It was not the funding that made us excited, it’s the trust, the belief from the team of notable investors in us. At that time, we had already got another offer from some other accelerator programme, but my response to my Co-founder was: “Where do I sign?”
A few months ago, in my bedroom in Saigon, I shared my unconventional problem about connecting with people around me with my close friend, Leslie Nguyen. She gave it some thought, asked me a few questions, and then said, “Let’s solve this together!” I couldn’t tell her or anyone how happy I was at that moment, but until now — there aren’t many moments which come close to that.
There are tears, laughter, joyfulness, frustration, and everything in between. But we all can only live once; life isn’t measured by the number of breaths that we take, but the moments that take our breaths away.
Thuy Muoi — Saigon, May 2014
The article What are you missing out? (For not working at any startup) was originally posted on Medium.