Reposted guest Blog for Vana Koutsomitis from The Apprentice inploi Team | 19.04.2016
inploi co-founder, Matthew de la Hey shares his thoughts on alternative career choices and founding a startup in your mid-twenties with The Apprentice contestant, Vana Koutsomitis.
In your early to mid-twenties (and probably regardless of how old you are) passing on a ‘conventional’ career in favour of starting your own company is many things, all bundled up into a way of life and a train of thinking. It’s hard, it’s fun, it’s exhilarating, it’s exhausting, it’s stupid, it’s brave, it’s daring, it’s precocious, its infuriating, its inspiring, its frightening, its liberating.
I started inploi without ever having had a proper conventional job. I’d put off the real world whilst racking up degrees and left Oxford’s SaÏd Business School with a brain full of theory, a belly full of fire, and an imagination full of ideas. It was make or break — go off and get a real job, like the rest of my class mates, or, step into the unknown with little experience in the business world. As it turned out, I went with the latter, met a great co-founder, Alex Hanson-Smith, over the summer and continued on a roller coaster ride in pursuit of my dreams.
And what a ride it has been, and will continue to be! We work insane hours, have very little money, drink far too much coffee and frequently feel like we’re punching way above our weight. We cycle frantically all over the city between meetings, seeing potential investors, advisors, PR agencies, potential users for our app, lawyers, accountants, developers, film directors, other entrepreneurs and all other manner of people. People are remarkably generous with their time and willing to help, if only you ask them. We learn something new (and often very many things) every day. In a word, we’re on an adventure!
Occasionally when I’m having a down day, and I see friends who have fantastic careers and I consider our position, with no income and no ‘jobs’, I wonder if we’ve gone completely mad. But then I think about the potential of what we’re doing, and what it might be, and then dive back into it with renewed energy. And I think that is what anybody who has taken the start-up ‘plunge’ must draw upon to keep them going. It is absolutely crazy to attempt to set up a business without having a strong belief that what you’re trying to achieve has the potential (and indeed ought) to succeed. The ‘start-up’ life for the sake of it is a bad idea.
And, whilst we’re optimistic, we realise that all of our efforts may come to nothing. inploi may fail to get any traction; there may be a point at which we decide it would be foolish to continue, and pull the plug. But we’ll only be able to do that without regret if have given it our all trying to succeed. We quit our jobs, have spent our savings and have stretched resources as far as possible, ‘bootstrapping’ along the path to launch. And we’re nearly there. But, if it fails, and it might, I don’t think we’ll have any regrets.
Yes, we could have been building a career in a beautiful office somewhere, suited up on the 09:00-17:00. Instead we’ve dived headfirst into the tides of business, and got our hands dirty trying to build one from the ground up. We’ll come out of this experience, whatever the outcome, with our perspectives forever changed. We’ll have learnt and experienced things that we could not have done any other way. And that makes the journey and every ounce of effort we put in completely worth it.
If you have an idea which you deeply believe is capable of and ought to succeed; have some support for this from the people who would be your users or customers; have the stamina to operate under conditions of extreme uncertainty; and some way of supporting yourself long enough to see a start-up to the point of investment (and this may mean the doubly difficult approach of getting the ball rolling whilst working on another job), then step into the void. Who know’s where you’ll end up.
If you want to learn more about our beginnings and our first attempts with investors more in depth, check out this post: ‘You’re an Early Stage Investor, Aren’t You?’ Tales from the Fundraising Trail
This post first appeared on: http://vanakoutsomitis.com/blog/