Back in 2012 I co-founded a startup called Cherry Bird. It was born from frustration, excitement & opportunity. It was a #PropTech startup, which at the time wasn’t even a thing. We raised a healthy seed round, secured a place on the Oxygen Accelerator & was given support from many partners including Rackspace & the University of Southampton Catalyst.
Through the journey of building, selling, hiring, growing, raising, pitching… I wanted to share three lessons I learnt.
- It’s a personal journey, remember that.
One of the biggest pieces of advice I can give is – remember that although you’re on this rocket ship, you’re an individual too. Although you’ll want your startup to ultimately succeed, most do fail. What will you have left from the journey if you do fail? I think if you remember this throughout you’ll make the most of the experience whatever the outcome. What networks can you create? What do you have the opportunity to learn? Who can you connect with?
2. Be kind to your investors.
We raised our first round through the accelerator and instantly had 12 new investors. It’s easy to fear them since you won’t really get to know them all that well. I kind of avoided the bad news just occasionally sending an email about what was going well. This was a big mistake – your investors know the journey inside out and want complete honestly however things are going. They can help – make friends with your investors, don’t fear them.
3. Get involved in the community.
I visited San Fransisco & Silicon Valley as part of my startup journey – we went to meet some founders who had scaled and grew into the states. One of the greatest things I discovered about the community in the valley is the eco-system of startups. Literally everyone is building something or trying to change the world. The question isn’t ‘what do you do for a living?’ it’s ‘what are you building!?’. I discovered the great asset of the valley is the community – being with likeminded people is such a huge advantage. Wherever you are building – get involved in your local startup community. Meet others doing the same as you and help them. There are huge advantages to this and you’ll make life-long friends in the process. There are some great networks which organise round table discussions and networking events – find them.
If you’re building something – give yourself a pat on the back. You’re amongst a very small group of people creating something… trying to change the world in some small way. Be proud for it’s not an easy journey and certainly not the journey everyone else seems to think it is. It’s emotionally exhausting, physically draining and a very lonely path. Despite the challenges, don’t fear – you’re on a rollercoaster only few get to experience.