Things Break Up
“Oh great London, oh great London… I love you and I hate you at the same time”.
I had that phrase stuck in mind for the whole of 2016. During that year, I was taking more risks everyday with less money which made me extremely anxious and I had a few panic attacks, even in the middle of the street on the way home. I was really stressed out about anything and everything. For instance, how will I pay my rent next month? How can I develop a new startup and let the other go after only a few months of working on it? What am I doing here in London?! This f*cking city is draining the hell out of my body and mind! Big decision: I have to find a part-time job to focus on Pop & Rest’s development and put Yolap aside for a while.
At the beginning of May 2016, I was heading towards the summer with a new part-time job as a phone interviewer within a call center in Stratford. After a couple of weeks of job hunting, it was the only flexible job that I found that allowed me to have enough time for Pop & Rest. Firstly, I was finally earning money again to pay my bills. Secondly, I had enough flexibility to make my own schedule. It was a good solution for the next 3 months but I was still quite short in money. Mauricio and I had invested a lot of our savings on the platform development. Well, let me correct this; we didn’t invest our money actually, we basically threw it to the rubbish! First major startup mistake: investing all the money you have in the wrong individual aiming to develop the wrong product. We invested about £3,000 (yes it was big money for us) to get a buggy and unfinished product and we spent some money on useless paid marketing campaigns on Facebook. Pure Amateurism.
What the f*ck is happening?
While we were struggling to get the first version of the online platform finished and ready for the launch in September, I had to leave my flat. My flatmates had decided to go back to France and I was not able to afford the flat in East London anymore. My best option was to ask Mauricio (or push him — let’s be honest!) to live with him at his place. I was so desperate and focused on Pop & Rest that I didn’t care too much about this unstable situation. I was sure that we would get investment soon and all these things would be put behind me. Another big mistake of mine. I was once again showing too much confidence and not measuring the risks accurately enough. For the next three months, I was getting up at 8am, and either going to the call center to earn money or going to WeWork to work on Pop & Rest. Some days I was working until 10pm or 11pm on Pop & Rest before going back to Mauricio’s flat.
I will always remember those three months: August, September and October 2016. I was working like crazy and I was going back to the flat late so Mauricio’s flatmates would not notice my presence. I didn’t have my own key which meant it was always difficult to know in advance when I could go to the flat to lie down. By the way, I don’t blame Mauricio on this since it was all my fault. Sharing a room wasn’t practical and some tensions started to arise between Mauricio and I. Totally normal. It was just time to change and go back to my first home in London, Clink hostel.
If you have never heard of Clink, let me tell you it’s by far the best youth hostel in London! Located only 5 minutes away from Kings Cross station, it’s a great place to stay for backpackers, tourists and hustlers like me. Approaching Christmas 2016, I was living uncomfortably in a 10 beds dorm and almost broke. During the first launch attempt of Pop & Rest, I remember that I was exhausted and was looking forward to having a small Christmas break. Two weeks before, I started to really lose my concentration and I was feeling overwhelmed by the whole situation. Within 3 days, I had broken my laptop charger, then my laptop hard-drive and on the top of that someone in my room stole my wallet… What the f*ck?! Not only was my personal life difficult but Pop & Rest was progressing much slower than expected. Damn I was broken and broke.
Some good takeaways for you! In the first two parts of my story I have shared with you some of my mistakes. I just want to review them below.
1) I advise you to start a business with minimum savings of between £10k and £20k depending on your business, to cover up your initial costs (beta app, server, prototype building, business cards, transport and meals). Also, you shouldn’t rush any decisions and remain patient. Don’t quit your full-time job too early (or keep a part-time job aside).
2) Think twice before investing huge sums. Don’t start crazy with a big product development phase or an expensive marketing campaign. Be lean!
3) Measure your risk by planning your expenses. However, do take risks because without taking risks, you go nowhere in life. (see the part 3 of my story ;)).