The End of My First Startup Journey
Joining OneSky has been the greatest (without “one of”) experience in my life. It has been so much fun seeing a product grow from nothing to one with a decent number of well-known clients in 5 years. It was an eye-opening journey. Although it came to an end last month, it doesn’t mean the bonding between us ended. The skills I learnt, the bits of knowledge I obtained, and the people I met will be with me forever.
There was almost no information about what the tech world was like 5 years ago within my circle in Hong Kong. I was about to graduate from the university. Facebook and Google were no closer than Pluto. I was never one of those brilliant kids who figured out how to sell lemonade when they were 6. I didn’t know what to do after graduation.
I was a freelancer when studying in university. Some clients who weren’t technical and showed no respect to product building pissed me off. I decided not to do that anymore after graduation. OneSky offered a chance to focus on building a sense-making product. I didn’t care about the topic. It was great to build a product without dealing with nonsense clients. What’s even better was it ended up being what I liked a lot.
There was nobody familiar with the translation industry in the team back then. This came with a lot of problems. It could be easy to say NO to them. After being pushed to some that I was about to say NO to but got them solved, I realized it’s not that hard. There are usually a lot of solutions for a problem. We are not building Tesla or SpaceX. Plus, the learnings obtained during the process would be staying with me forever. The obstacle is the way.
I became determined and fearless.
Mind-blown by the world-class people
There is a Chinese story: a frog sits in a well and looks up to the sky, saying the sky’s so small it already knows everything about it. Hong Kong was the well before I visited the Bay Area 4 years ago.
I met people way younger but had achieved way more than me. I realized those people behind the world-class products were also living on the Earth, instead of some unknown galaxies. Being a little rebellious, it made me work harder after that. They had been doing something that I could do as well but didn’t simply because of laziness. I had never had such a strong feeling that I wanted to be part of them.
That could be where the ambition and workaholism came from. I don’t want to complain about things and regret not doing something when I get old.
Inspired by people around
By staying in a small team, I had the chance to work with everyone directly and be inspired by them. Work has been tough, but the a-ha moments with team members outweighed the intensive working style.
It was even greater to work on customer support and sales. Those roles provided me chances to interact with more people from different countries.
Experience in customer support taught me how to dig deeper into a problem. Usually, a client was not suffering from what he told you. I met a doctor-to-be friend, and he told me this was also what doctors had been encountering. Patients usually misunderstand their own problems. Finding out the real problem from a complaint has been a valuable skill along the way. Plus, some clients were nice and helpful, so I had learnt a lot from them.
As an introvert, it was difficult for me to interact with strangers. I didn’t even talk to people actively in university. The sales experience offered me the most important change in my life. I learnt how to hustle and interact with people.
Like a sponge, I have been trying my best to absorb knowledge from all the people I met. Sometimes, it was difficult to tell if that’s an advantage or disadvantage. I had to imitate it and the other way around to see the difference between the results. It could not work well every time. But given enough number of trials and errors, it could be effective.
I learnt how to learn. I knew how little that I’d known.
Work hard, play hard and make friends
The 5-year period was the toughest one I have ever had in my life. There were a lot of problems to solve every day that obviously 8 hours was not enough. I had to work my ass off to make sure things were on the right track. The sense of achievements that followed motivated me when I was about to give up. It was so fulfilling to see a client pay (and his time saved) because of my work.
Working with a group of smart, mature, and straightforward people was great too. We shared some good times playing board games, made fun of each other. We also delivered value to clients together, helping each other, instead of messing with each other. Without all the great team members, I couldn’t have overcome the shit load of work. Some said you couldn’t make friends during work. But I am still very “naive” to believe professionalism and friendship could be maintained when both are mature and sincere enough. You argue, you understand each other, you improve, you move on.
I also made close and like-minded friends during the people-meeting journey. It was all about the click moments you could have with each other, instead of how long you have known each other or worked with each other. I also received a lot of advice from mentors and friends. Some of their suggestions or comments will affect my life forever.
I am very grateful to have met them.
The 5-year period is long and short. It is so long that I gained a lot from it. It is so short that I still haven’t reached the goal. It is a pity but I don’t regret.
I am now having my first vacation in South East Asia after non-stop working for 2 years. I have never felt so relaxed.
The end of one journey is the beginning of another. I am sure the next one will be more awesome and keep leading me to the goal.