I have been thinking about writing my startup story for sometime by now. I open notepad on my laptop when I’m emotionally low, but suddenly something pops up which takes me back to a high energy level. I close the window and resume my work. This has been the usual stuff for the last couple of months, but today for a change, I’m completely down for a long period and I thought I should write down what’s in my mind and vent out my frustrations.
Don’t expect a structure to this story. No one vents out in a structured way. I’m just typing as it comes in my mind.
I’ve been working on my startup for the last 6 months. Validated and the market feedback says that this is going to be very big. Have done enough customer development and have really enjoyed the positive feedback. They are loving it and excited for it to go live.
You must be now thinking why am I low then? What you know is just the cherry on top of the ice cream I’m building. It’s sweet, looks awesome, and tasty. But trust me, building the ice cream has become really tough now. That’s what sells right?
I have a co-founder. Amazingly talented. Great at articulating. But, what lacks in him today is motivation. He is not a product/tech geek. He doesn’t understand much about the nature of online business. But without him, the business I’m building will not flourish because we both have complementary skills. I understand product and marketing for online businesses, but weak at articulating/selling the product at a high level. He is just the opposite. Get him a few people to meet and at the end of the meeting, they leave amazed about what we are building and so pumped to start using the product.
So his lack of attention to what we are building is taking a toll on me. You have no clue. I have to build the product by working with an outsourced tech team, write blog posts and keep engaging with those who’ve already signed up for the beta, manage social media interactions (we have a good number of followers already), work with an outsourced agency who’s building videos for us, writing content which will go up the site when we launch, networking with people and ask for feedback, connecting with VC’s so that we can pitch when we go live, build a media kit so that we are ready for press before we go live – and all of this after 8pm at night. Yes, both of us are not completely out from our respective companies yet and will be in the next couple of weeks. Currently serving notice period.
Besides all of this, it has reached a level where I have to remind my co-founder to check his emails and respond. Mostly he won’t do it and I end up doing it – I have access to his emails as well. Amidst all of this, I’ve already put in 60% of my savings into building the product and my co-founder has not fulfilled his promise (his share of investment) yet.
I’ve kept this for me to survive for the first 1 year assuming that we’ll not get funded. I’ve already invested 60% of that and I’m more worried about how I will be able to take this forward if my co-founder is not putting in his share. I’ve asked him many times, and he has reasons for “not doing it”. He has been testing my patience for a long time, but I’m taking it because I know I need him for his skills and it will be very hard for me to find someone else in his place. If I need to play his role, I’m sure I will not do well.
I’m prepared to slog my ass off for this product, but I can’t imagine if I don’t have money to put in for product development. I’m clear that I will not hire anyone for the next few months, but I should at least have some money so that my hopes are alive.
Meanwhile, I called my ex-manager whom I consider as a mentor and asked him to lend me $20,000. That’s all I need to survive for the next 8 months in business. I told him that If I manage to raise investment after showing traction to potential investors, he can decide whether he wants to stay invested or not. If not, I’ll pay him his money back. If I fail completely, I owe him that money and I shall repay within the next year. I’m confident that I can do it because I know that I can get a job which pays me nothing less than $90,000 per year. I’m good, I know it.
He didn’t refuse, but just ignored it.
[Me taking long breath……]
Hmm … I feel better now. I know I will make this work. I’m going after a $4 billion industry worldwide. I’m getting interest online. It’s huge and I have the first mover advantage. And, I’m proud of my product as everyone who sees it says, yes, this will work. Applied for YC latest batch (April 2014), let’s see what happens there.
I don’t know what will happen. But one thing for sure, I will make this work. If I have to sell everything that I have, I will do it.
The last laugh will be mine!