1 / 30 Broke Weeks

x Anna Fine

It’s the end of the first week. It’s been eye-opening, but admittedly, stressful. I had no time to save money; I had no break between leaving my job and starting this program; but I was excited. Better yet, I was anxious. Anxious to see where this whole thing might go. Anxious to know how to start my own company. Anxious to meet my 16 other peers, these Future Founders, for the first time. Anxious, most of all, not to squander this opportunity. I needn’t have worried about the latter, as it turned out. 30Weeks, right off the bat, had us crazy busy.

Day 1 we met everyone in charge of making 30Weeks happen – the board, the “faculty,” the other Future Founders. It was intense. Now I’m very outgoing, but even I was left exhausted after all of the mingling and the talking. I think the last time I was tired of talking was before I could formulate actual words.

I was fortunate enough to meet inspirational people like:

Kevin Rogers, frog Design
Matias Corea, Behance
James Cooper, Betaworks
Matt Jones, Google Creative Lab
Michoel Ogince, Windforce Ventures
Rachel Sklar, The Li.st
Andy Berndt, Google Creative Lab
Robert Wong, Google Creative Lab
Craig Neville-Manning, Google Engineering
Richard Wilde, SVA
Saskia Bos, The Cooper Union

It was an incredible opportunity to shake hands with people who shake up the industry.

The rest of the week was a lot of team building. I could tell it frustrated some of the other Future Founders, after all, I wasn’t the only anxious one; but I understood why were doing these exercises. We needed to create a safe space, a place where we could freely talk about ideas without fear of one person “borrowing” from another. It’s a phenomenon I was acquainted with having gone to art school followed by a competitive “idea-generating” industry. Everyone can get paranoid about the genesis of ideas. So while it felt odd to be participating in trust-building exercises, I understood the reason for them and just enjoyed the ride. With something like 30Weeks, you can only take things a day at a time. Actually, that’s just life.

Guest Speakers

Between what I call “orientation time,” we had a few guest speakers as well. I considered their taking the time to speak with us the best part of the week. It was a taste of the caliber of knowledge only we 17 designers were privy to – and I felt privileged.

Rus Yusupov – cofounder of Vine

Our first speaker was Rus Yusupov cofounder of Vine, board member of 30Weeks, and graduate of the School of Visual Arts – just like me! We sat around the dining table in the front lobby area and casually talked start-up life.

I have talked about apps and ideas many times before, given my background in digital and advertising, but this was notably the first time I was talking about entrepreneurship on a one-to-one ratio. I mean to say, normally I would hear a story like Rus’ and think, “Wow, that’s incredible. Really inspiring guy.” His story would have seemed untouchable to me because I was coming at his anecdotes from a perspective unrelated or perhaps uninterested in the angle he came from. He is a founder, I was an art director. But now I had my “other” ears on, and was able to take away things I maybe wouldn’t have had I not been interested in starting my own company. So I guess you could say my first lesson at 30Weeks is something I should have learned a long time ago: listen with many kinds of ears.

As far as the content is concerned, the thing I most took away from his talk was toys. Simple, playful, engaging toys. Nietzsche once said, “in every real man a child is hidden that wants to play;” and I think it’s safe to say Rus has never lost his inner child. Yes, he’s a grown man with a lot of industry wisdom, but everything he touches and creates comes from the playful place of “wouldn’t it be cool if…” The same place some of the best ideas in the world come from – the same place Vine stemmed from (pun totally intended).

Jeff Baxter and Thomas Gayno – cofounders of Cord

The second talk we had was by two guys from a new app called Cord. Jeff Baxter and Thomas Gayno (pronounced “toh-mah”) are ex-Google employees who went from 0 to $1+ million in only 23 weeks. These guys were more relatable to me because: a) Jeff was an interactive designer like I was; b) they started a company in the 30 week timeframe; and c) they were really chill dudes looking to make something they want to use – no relying on past experience in start-ups. Actually, those things I related to most were probably my best takeaways too. They gave me hope. For a minute there, I wasn’t so sure that I could make an app or company in 30weeks, but they showed me it was possible. They showed us their presentation deck, and how they pitched their idea to VCs (venture capitalists) – which I was preemptively concerned about. But once I saw their pitch deck I felt reassured. It was nothing more than what I did weekly at an ad agency pitching work to clients; but nothing less of a clear narrative that was concise and engaging. Seeing what they’re going through made my future more palatable.

Having met such incredible people this week and seeing how quickly your life can go from 0 to 60, I am more excited than ever for these next 29 weeks. But man this week was exhausting, definitely going to Netflix it up this weekend!


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