By Yuval Karmi, CEO and Co-Founder, Simpo
Ask any entrepreneur “what is the scariest part of startup life?” and I’m willing to bet most would say it’s “the unknown.” In my experience, the essence of being an entrepreneur is learning to make difficult decisions in an environment with many unknowns.
There are many questions with no obvious answers — “How do I figure out the best positioning for my product?”, “Who am I selling to?…Wait, am I even building the right thing?”, “Do I have enough runway to make it to my next milestone?” It can be scary to not always know the answers. Plus, if you’re a first time founder like me, you don’t always know the right questions to ask in the first place.
Which is why I think it is vital for any entrepreneur to surround themselves with others who have gone (or are going) through the same experiences. The biggest value our company, Simpo, has received from our investors is not the actual capital that we raised. Instead, it’s the close-knit community of entrepreneurs that we were introduced to through them. These fellow entrepreneurs have been generous and open. Not only about their experiences raising money, finding product-market fit, and talking to customers, but about the emotional ups and downs that are an inevitable part of building a startup.
Entrepreneurs generally refrain from openly talking about the things that aren’t going as planned, and the impact this has on them personally. This is especially true around the valley, where the answer to “how are things going?” is almost almost “awesome — we’re killing it!” We all want to convince both ourselves and others that everything is going smoothly, but in reality, startups are roller-coasters; there are ups — but also inevitable downs.
Having a trusted community of peers, like that at UpWest, makes confronting these unknowns much easier because you are surrounded by others who have been in your shoes. For me, this meant having fellow entrepreneurs that don’t sugarcoat — friends to brainstorm with, work through challenges, and provide both business and emotional support. This has been, hands-down, the most helpful thing I’ve gotten out of UpWest.
The cascading effect of previous founders advising those coming up behind them (and so on), makes the whole startup community stronger, and is one of the best examples of value-add that investors like UpWest provide.