And Why Startup Founders should not be afraid of heights.
I’ve been a founder for just over two years now, and the last few years have been some of the most stressful and exciting of my life. I’m not going to tell you that the startup journey is easy — I’ve never known life to be easy — but it’s certainly rewarding.
I like to call it a rollercoaster.
At times, it’s super exciting and you’re riding high, soaring through the clouds with a smile stretching from ear-to-ear. And at other times, it’s downright scary and your stomach feels like it’s about to drop out of your body.
The first few months of being a founder are exciting and exhilarating.
You’re building something from nothing, creating something that will hopefully make a dent in the universe (or at least in your city/ country). It’s an amazing feeling, and all of your hard work and effort is finally starting to pay off. You get emails from people saying how much they love what you’re doing, or telling you how much they wish they could do what you’re doing. You can’t stop smiling!
Getting press for your startup is an incredible feeling too. The first time I got published on e27 was one of my proudest moments as a founder so far — and all because I was part of an awesome community who were so supportive… Having someone take notice of what you’re doing is such a big deal! I know that e27 has probably been published on hundreds if not thousands of times since then, but for me personally, it made all the difference in getting the confidence to keep pushing forward with my own startup idea. It made me feel like there was some merit in the product we were building — even though there wasn’t really anything there yet!
And then sometimes things go wrong…
Hitting rock bottom has been a massive learning experience for me over the last few months — but also incredibly frustrating.
The first time I felt like I was totally failing was when we released our product and it got a whopping zero customers. That was pretty depressing, but the good news is that I learned how to deal with it! And after delivering my first talk at EdtechXAsia, we actually got some interest from a few people. Which was amazing.
But then we started talking to one of these companies, and things just didn’t go quite as smoothly as expected… After about 2 months of trying to get the deal signed (and even getting close), they decided to give us the cold shoulder and not sign a deal after all. But now that I’ve had a bit of distance, I can safely say that it’s fine, and I know how to handle it better next time.
The second time I hit rock bottom was when we were on the verge of closing a deal with a large Education Brand that we’d been working so hard to get on board. It was the culmination of hard work, and we’d finally got to the point where we were signing the contract and getting ready for our first check.
But then it all fell apart. And I was devastated. I didn’t know what to do — we’d already invested a substantial amount of money in our product, and it was looking like we might have just wasted everything. We were back at square one again, with nothing to show for all the hours of hard work that had been put in over the last few months.
It’s all about perspective
I’ve learned that things aren’t always as bad as they seem — something that’s super important when you’re going through something as stressful as being a founder! Sometimes, it’s good to step away from your problem and look at it from a different perspective. And by taking a step back, I’ve learned that I can handle anything that life throws my way.
So, to all the future founders out there, I hope you’re as excited about this journey as I am. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done in my life, even though it can be tough at times.
About the Author
I am the Founder of Cudy Technologies (www.cudy.co), a full-stack EdTech startup helping teachers and students teach and learn better. I am also a mentor and angel investor in other Startups of my other interests (Proptech, Fintech, HRtech, Ride-hailing, C2C marketplaces and SaaS). You can also find me on Cudy for early-stage Startup Founder mentorship and advice.
You can connect with me on Linkedin (https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexanderlhk) and let me know that you are a reader of my Medium posts in your invitation message.