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“Nothing is impossible” has become one of my mantras in life, one that I always go back to when I hear from someone that “it’s not technically feasible”, “we can’t achieve this” or “this can’t be done”. I know this is simply not true from personal experience. Sometimes all you need is a little faith in yourself, and a fighting spirit.

Over a year ago, one of my best friends told me that his mom had cancer. I was shocked.

My friend and I grew up together on the same street in a little village in the Black Forest, Germany. We went to school together from Kindergarten through High School. His mom often gave us a ride to school or cooked for me, and she was always available when my mom needed help. She was probably one of the few people that I met and remembered well from my childhood. My friend told me that she had been given little expectation or hope of living much longer. The 5 year survival rate of lung cancer patients can be as little as 5%. I was devastated when I heard the news.

I decided to write her a letter. A few days after I sent it to her, she sent me back an email regarding how much my words had helped her. Today, over a year later, she is still alive, and I felt other people might be in a similar situation, in a situation where they want to give up. I hope that reading the letter below can give others hope too, and convince them to keep fighting.


December 1st, 2013

Dear Gertrud*,

I can imagine that the above situation was most likely one of the toughest and most depressing times of your life. It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to write, as it is hard to find the right words. Being only 28 years old, with comparatively little life experience and so far, no major health issues, I felt I was likely the least qualified person to say something on this subject.

The only thing that I can share with you are moments where I felt lost and devastated myself, moments where I didn’t know how to proceed, had sleepless nights, or felt weeks of frustration, as I did, for example, when my parents got divorced.

I know that you are a fighter, that’s how I remember you, always fighting, whether it be for your company or for your children. I just want to remind you not to lose this “fighting attitude” even in this hard and difficult situation. Think positive. Positive thoughts and energy can move mountains.

After each low point, there is a high point, and it is in the most frustrating situations that wonders can arise.

As a teenager I was a professional Go-Kart racer. I raced against 3 of the current Formula 1 racers. They always arrived in big trucks, always had the best equipment, and brought along 2 or 3 mechanics, and spent hundreds of thousands of Euros per year. It was often very intimidating, because my dad and I arrived sometimes Friday evening in our little trailer fighting to still get a place in the pit where others had already practiced for 2 or 3 days. We couldn’t afford him being away from work or me skipping school. But still I won races against them.

Six years ago, when I was still working for Accenture, I was told by everyone that, as a foreigner, it is next to impossible to get a Visa for the U.S. in order to start your own company. Three years ago, I was a startup entrepreneur living in London. I was about to be forced to move to a friends couch because I was no longer able to afford my rent. I began looking for a job, and was heavily encouraged by my dad to “find a ‘proper’ job” and “to stop pursuing the risky startup journey” as he said it. But I didn’t give up my startup dream. After several weeks of uncertainty, I received an invitation from one of the most reputable investors called Y Combinator, an incubator in Silicon valley. It was the second time I had applied. The first time I did not get in. I flew to California for the interview. A week after the interview my co-founder and I received $ 150k and we moved to California. We got selected together with 79 other companies out of 3000 applications. This was an acceptance rate of 2.6 %.

It was at this moment that I decided to completely erase the word “impossible” from my vocabulary. Nothing is impossible.

Keep fighting.



*to keep anonymity names in this article have been changed. Some small additions and changes have been made to improve the reading flow and clarify parts of the original German version.

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Innovating @Snap. Founded Testmunk. German. YC alum

Innovating @Snap. Founded Testmunk. German. YC alum