Why can’t being a founder be easier?
On leaving Google to build tech that teaches kids about money
Building Pennybox, an app that educates kids and parents about personal finance, is rewarding and fun. When families use our product to enhance financial literacy at home, and tell me that their kids are learning how to earn and save, it feels great.
The flip side of the coin is that the process of starting a company is hard. Almost nothing is easy and often things don’t go to plan.
Ups and downs. Such is reality in the life of a founder.
In order to have one totally-head-over-heels-happy-user, we endure a lot. My team is gritty and resilient and strives to handle obstacles with a sense of humor and kindness.
As we often remind ourselves: the joy is in the journey. This snapshot will give you an idea of what comes across our way.
1. Office space is expensive
My parents told me that their garage was free to use and great. What they meant was I was free to clean it up and it would be great if I did.
2. Am I employed?
I earn a salary of $0 and only spend cash on truly essential items. Yet as a result of not having income, my parents believe that I am unemployed.
Health insurance companies believe that I am unemployed too and they do not seem to understand that I am both employed and not earning money.
3. The buck stops with me
Sick? Late? Have a hungry dog? There is a long and diverse list of things that come to my inbox.
4. User feedback interviews happen at all hours of the day (and night)
The mantra “the customer is always right” certainly applies.
5. Frequent rejection
I spend a lot of time with families to understand their needs and to build tools that help them. Not all user studies go well. One interview came to an abrupt halt when the kid stood up and put a bucket on his head.
6. When people join our beta list, we get fired up!
I get these cool automated emails when early adopters joins our pre-launch beta list.
Sadly, sometimes people leave us. Consumers get to vote, each and every day, and this serves as an important reminder.
If you are going to start a company you will face moments of uncertainty and doubt. Yet many of life’s worthwhile endeavors have an aspect of the uncharted and start as experiments in some way, shape, or form.
Don’t give up and don’t run for cover. “A ship is safe in the harbor but that’s not what ships are built for.”
Thanks for reading. I’m doing my best to turn small headwinds into important learning moments that propel us forward. If you’re interested in improving financial literacy in your home, you can access the Pennybox beta here.