Hope Springs Eternal: Startup story

I am a co-founder of a start-up. What is the first thing you’d think of? Wow sexy! He has huge cojones.

Are there challenges to entrepreneurship? Most certainly. Its even more certain if you are like me: when I have broken my back working for corporates for 15 years and I am thinking, well, I have picked up what is required and quickly, very quickly, the real-world bitch-slapped me.

Project management is my forte, or so I thought! Time lines have been bent, broken and passed by. Douglas Adams would be very proud of me. After all, he said “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by”. Along with the whooshing sound, I can also hear the flush of the toilet, because that exactly where the money I earned during the 15 years is going down! Whoooooooooooosh!

People Management skills: I had prided myself on that as well! Well, what I am learning is that it is inversely proportional to Anger Management. How is it you ask? Go on, you are thinking it anyway. I have learnt that I wouldn’t have to manage my anger if people could learn to manage their stupidity. So I have learnt: I suck at People Management and Anger Management and if this is anything to go by, my mathematics skills have just gone out of the window because there is now no relationship between people management and anger management! I dis-proved myself. That unravelled, quickly, didn’t it?

Strategy: I spent some quality time working with a couple of truly terrific bosses, to whom I owe a lot! Then, I became a co-founder: By now you should be getting good at guessing what really happened! I realized that at a startup, everyday is a harbinger to new strategies. How you ask? Isn’t Strategy supposed to be longer-term than say, tactics. So there goes that as well.

Time Management: I had learnt to manage my time well. I would come in early before anyone else in my team, finish my work for the day and then when the rest of the team waltzed in, I would be ready to be a comedian. In a startup it seems that I am a comedian all the time. There is no sense of time in a startup. All perspective is lost. There is no day and there is no night. Dark nights are darker and bright days, which are truly very few and far between (unless you have a benefactor or as they call them in this world: Angels or VCs) are rarely bright.

Internet has blurred geographical boundaries: This is something we all must have heard in some form or another. Terms like “Glocal” immediately come to mind. Let me tell you that its horse manure. Our cross to bear: Our startup operates in UK, a country and/or market we are not physically present in. The Founders are based in India. This just makes it so much more juicier. Imagine the questions that we get from VCs/Angels in India: We invest only in India. What do VCs/Angels say in the UK? But you are in India..

Yet, we trundle on.

As Robert Miles said:

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep and

miles to go before I sleep”

Let me tell you the truth. It is satisfying. The way I think, Pattypets, will change the world albeit in a small way, but there is a chance, nay a belief, that it will change. Conceptualizing something, pivoting it, building it, pivoting again ad nauseum, all for a chance that it will change the world.

Yet, it is deeply satisfying. It is something we are building out of a passion that only we know, feel and understand.

Hope springs eternal in the human breast,

Man never is, but always to be blessed:

The soul: uneasy and confined from home,

rests and expatiates in a life to come

- Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man

Hemant Velury

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