Bounce back: 10 things I did to get out of startup purgatory
Several months ago, I wrote an article about my journey about my previous startup Partyphile and how I fucked up big time. I wrote that article for the sole purpose of ending that amazing journey I had and to begin a new one.
I did not share it with anyone and for some reason people dug it up and it became viral that it even ended up TechInAsia. I wasn’t looking for any kind of sympathy or pity from anyone because I knew what I did but I was blown away and humbled with the outpour of support from people.
All of a sudden, failing spectacularly didn’t sound so bad after all. There was finally light at the end of the tunnel.
That outpour of support gave me power to move on and turn the corner to get out of the dumps. That started my journey to climb back up from the shit hole I was in to somewhere where I believed I should be — back in the battlefield, grinding and hustling.
So fast forward 6 months, here I am writing an article of how I got back up, in a cold hotel room several hours before my 29th birthday.
I’m not where I dream of being yet; I’m still very, very far from it.
What I learned from Partyphile is sometimes it’s not about the end result, it’s the journey that counts and what you do after it.
I am just grateful to even have a chance of sharing to you how I got out of that rut and how I began my new startup journey.
Like how I did it in my previous article, I intend to keep it as real as possible so pardon me for cuss words that you might encounter along the way (You can turn away now if you’re not comfortable with it).
I will also not be sharing this anywhere just like how I did on the first article. So if you stumble upon this article, you can do whatever the fuck you want with it. I hope you learn a thing or two from it though.
Ready? Let’s go.
Here are the 10 things I did to get out of Startup Purgatory:
- Let go of excess baggage — You cannot fly if you’re heavy. The first thing I did to really bury the hatchet and begin moving on is to write my previous article and never look back. Harbouring any ill feelings and thoughts over anyone or anything will never set me free and just be a hindrance for my next journey.
- Remember who helped you — Though it is good to let go of excess baggage, it’s imperative that you look out after people who helped you. I notified key people that helped me get here that I will give back what they gave me. People that never left and had my back and never let you go through shit. I vowed that once I got back up, I will give them back their shares and continue with the journey. It’s not just about the money, it’s about the trust that they gave and I will never take that for granted.
- Accept your reality — So now I’ve turned the page and I was ready to write the next chapter on a blank canvas. I do not have any of the resources that I had back then but now I have something that I never had before — shitload of experience. I’m back to zero and that’s ok. It was a chance to rewrite my story again.
- Remember your purpose — During the beginning, it was a struggle getting my flow back without knowing how you’re going to get there. A lot of self doubt will creep in and you will feel discouraged and confused. But just like any entrepreneur, you have to remember where your north star is. My north star were always composed of three things: first was always to save up and create a bright future for my mom and future wife, second was to look out after our late co-founder by continuing the journey and finish what I started in solving users’ problems in nightlife and entertainment using technology. That kept me going in days when shit hits the fan. There was no room for moping around.
- Surround yourself with believers — I was very fortunate that my two co-founders from Partyphile never left me when they could have just bid adieu. I told them my idea and they didn’t flinch in supporting me. They provided money to bootstrap, hire people and get the ball rolling. In a matter of months, we were able to build a formidable team, accommodate clients, and build our own products right away.
- Create a side hustle — One of the biggest things I’ve early on is decide to not be dependent on my startup for my own livelihood. Since we were bootstrapping the budget that came from my co-founders will just be put to waste if I was to draw a salary. So I got creative and I hustled. I freelanced and told people that I was a failed startup founder and I can help them not fuck up like I did. To my surprise, it was a hit! Within a couple of days, I was having projects that was more than enough for me to survive. My previous startup failure and experience resonated to a lot of first time entrepreneurs. As a matter of fact, one of them is even launching soon. I was helping others while helping myself as well. With this in place, I can run my business organically without taking bad deals because I do not rely on it for my own survival.
- Eliminate the noise — While you are in startup purgatory, you will have a daily battle with self pity on a daily basis. Self inflicted self pity is the worst especially if you’re trying to get back up and see the progress of your fellow startup entrepreneurs killing it in their startups via social media. Though you feel good to see other startup founders succeed, it’s natural to feel bad about your lack of success. What I did was to stop looking and buying the hype. Very few entrepreneurs talk about their struggles in social media and everyone appears to be killing it out there. So buying the hype will be equivalent to drinking their kool-aid. What I did was to stop focusing on these things to avoid my own pity party and it worked.
- Sit down. Be humble. — Just like what I said in number 7, don’t drink the kool-aid and don’t even make your own kool-aid. Over the past few months, I assessed people on my news feed. I noticed two types of entrepreneurs: the noisy ones and the silent ones. The noisy ones (not all) are mostly busy talking about their startups, are active in groups, and usually humble bragging (I was like this before so I know how it is). The silent ones rarely post shit about their startup. The stark difference between these two is that when you talk in person to them the noisy ones usually have nothing to show for and the silent ones have tons of fucking progress to show because they were busy working in the trenches that they don’t even have the time to humble brag. Nowadays, I try to shut the fuck up and keep shit to myself unless it’s completely necessary (i.e. marketing, growth hacking). Besides, nobody really gives a fuck anyway. The people that really care about your startup and your journey will always have the time to catch up with you regardless of the avenue.
- Master Yourself — In the last days of Partyphile, I sent an email to one of our investors and her advice stuck to me — “Self-mastery is an important contributor to achieving success; and helpful for surviving the bad times and enjoying the good times.”, she said. I looked back into what got me where I was in Partyphile before. I focused on the skills that I was good at learned skills that I never got the chance to learn before. I created a habit of constant learning again whether through books, articles, courses, and more. More than anything, I also focused on my leadership. I focused on not letting my emotions get the best of me and lead by example to empower my team. By being the leader, you need to be a servant to your team and provide them with the necessary resources and tools to thrive in their roles.
- Hustle harder — If there is one thing I know how to do very well, it was to hustle. During this period of me getting back it was flattering for me to get some offers from other startup founders to join their team to hustle. It was tempting but the stubborn motherfucker in me won. I knew that I could only hustle for myself, so I respectfully declined their offer. In that said, I knew that I had work extra harder to get back where I was before. Luckily, I was able to build a solid network and experience to bank on and I knew what type of effort I also needed to bring to the table day in and day out to get out of this conundrum. I was able to convert opportunities quicker than I thought. For the first time ever, we were making money. Something that I never had in Partyphile. I think I finally cracked the code and I have the right structure to succeed.
It wasn’t an easy road going out of Startup Purgatory where all hope is lost. I could have caved in so many times but these 10 things helped me get through the rain. If you’re down in the dumps, you can get out of it too. I hope you can pick a thing or two from this.
Am I where I was before?
Nope. And that’s ok. I’m not in a hurry either.
However, these past 6 months set the precedent on how I want to build my new startups — ChatbotPH and PartyBot. I now have full control over my destiny that I never had before. We have some resources and I have a solid team that I can go to war with. This time though I’m going to be careful.
I am just grateful to be here.
I think I’m finally in the right path.