Thanks, 2017, for teaching me about failure.
You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. — Wayne Gretzky
This past year was my year of realization and learning. I’m am optimist, altruist, and pragmatist. I take each and every experience and encounter as a way of growing and learning. Today, as we ring in a new year I’ll share my biggest failure that led to me to finding my way as a biotech founder in Silicon Valley.
To preface, I graduated from UC Berkeley in 2017 not really knowing what I wanted to do except knowing that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I had won a a pitch competition earlier in the year that let me travel and work on validating one of my company ideas, a clean-energy social venture working on increasing connectivity to power for people living in developing nations.
This brings me to the Philippines in the typhoon-filled Summer. I go around talking to communities and people living in remote and some of the most poverty-stricken regions in the country. I learn that the problems of energy connectivity are more than economic, political, and social. They are entangled with a deep history of disenfranchisement by the global north.
The problem of energy access a would not be solved with my company simply helping these families and communities earn a better wage and increase their energy access. I also saw how difficult and how small of a reach realistically the company would be able to reach.
I lied to myself for weeks that I would make the best of the situation and I wanted to pursue the idea. But as I sat in a hotel room pondering my life and the change I wanted to be in the world, I realized that I wanted to do something that was far-reaching and that I felt was more directly addressable. I felt passionate about the issue of energy access and after talking with families and kids about their struggles, I felt connected and wanted to help with all my heart. The issue was simply too big for my “big” idea (or small startup?).
This was the first time in my life I felt that I had truly failed. I have never given up on an endeavor until this year and this was by far the hardest lessons I’ve learned. There are many battles in life, some that I think are worth pursuing even with a slim chance of success, others that need to be forfeited or forgone.
I am so grateful and thankful to have met and have been supported throughout my entrepreneurship journey by the entrepreneurship community at UC Berkeley. I have met lifelong friends and mentors who have encouraged and challenged me each and every day. I’ve learned that entrepreneurship is not just about ideas and money, it’s just as much about failing and growing. The capacity to get up after failing is what will make you succeed. They don’t teach you that one in the books.
I’m looking forward to what the new year brings and sharing my entrepreneurship journey!