Thursday, January 16, 2014

A cup of coffee in the morning isn't enough at a startup

*Taken from Pinterest!
I have to admit that my work life growth is very different from many of those around me. Now with two years and 9 months of time at, I am pretty sure that I can say that my career began in and at a start-up! Which is quite the opposite of most of my peers, who work at an already established company or industry (like banking, real estate, or consulting), then transition to a start up company / team. 
Contrary to what most people think, startup life is fun! When I say "fun," it means that anything can happen any day. Obstacles, Challenges, and moments of doubt mixed with hopelessness is a daily occurrence... seriously. But the most important thing is not only having a positive and optimistic mindset, but also be pragmatic at times, have situational-awareness, know your shit, and trust that your startup / team have the potential to actually succeed. I can say that I've seen many many startups come and go, and it is scary at first to see all these fine young talents doing what they love and what they believe in... then get shot down and give up. 
There are a few observations that I made during my time in a startup so far: 

1) It is very important to have someone or a group of people with real world experience, in whatever industry or field that you are creating a startup in. 
... I've seen so many startups try to come up with solutions for overcoming problems in a specific industry, but they have no one from that particular industry in their group or team. For example: I've met more than a dozen teams that are trying to create online food ordering systems in Taiwan, but in all but one group, none of them have anyone from the restaurant business or catering business. When it comes down to it, doesn't matter how skilled you are at coding or brain-storming; real world experience, industry know-how, and connections goes alot further when establishing your product/service and getting it out there. 

2) money money money, and money management. 
... You may have dreams and maybe even a solution to solve a problem that everyone faces, but do you have the funds and capital available? Let's be realistic, dreams and ideas will forever be dreams and ideas, and highly likely to be taken by someone else if you don't act upon them soon... and the fastest and most efficient way is having money. Either you can convince a VC, an angel investor, or you have an already existing business that brings in the dough... don't think that dreams, passion, and people alone will sustain a startup. Getting money is the easy part, it's how to manage and not think that all this money is your's for the taking, now that is the hard part. Too many young startups think money they get from VC's and angel investors is like a welfare check: they think it will come again when it's all dried up. invest every single cent, yen, shilling, or euro in something that will one day bring value. 
Money is a tool, not the goal. Use it, don't stop when you get it and waste it. 

3) pivot is good. pivoting too much is dangerous.
... when your idea is being applied to the real world, and things happen the way you didn't expect: pivot! but you keep on pivoting, then it becomes a habit and you will always be changing your plans and ideas. There is adapting and evolving, and then there is pivoting. Pivoting is like speed, pivot once or twice is like giving the engine a little more gas so that you get there a little faster and maybe get past that drunk drive on the road... pivoting too much and that's like going twice the speed limit and now you're in danger to not only yourself but everyone else involved. Before you pivot, make sure you have assessed that it is absolutely necessary. 

4) Good mood
... This is actually very vital to the life of a startup. If you are the leader or CEO of the startup, you better have that smile and energy every single day when you face your team / company. Passion burns bright and fast, and once the real world hits your startup, that is when shit hits the fan. As the leader, you have to keep everyone motivated and eyes / focus on the mission/ goal at hand. The leader is the beacon of hope and prospect of success, if you show doubt and defeat, it will travel and imprint into everyone in your team. Doesn't matter how bad the day is going, how much its raining, or how hopeless it seems... bring that box of candy, brew that hot chocolate, play that light hearted music! you show you are in good spirits, it will either make everyone happy and motivated, or it will annoy the pessimistic into faking "being happy and positive," both ways it's good! Smile and high-five them at the end of the day! 

*Taken from Pinterest!

There's no "lessons" or "list of things to do," these are just a few heads up that I can come up with. has gone through alot of downs, and a few ups, but we never thought of giving up. At the same time, we've had people with more than enough real world experience to guide us and shed light on what's really going on out there. Balls alone aren't enough, better have to the right skills and mindset as well. 

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