A year in STRUGGLE
A year ago today I co-founded my company and became a CEO
The most memorable bits are noted below:
Incorporation in Germany
Germany is probably the Mordor for startups. It’s like trying to run in a quicksand. Processes are baroque, slow, digital is not yet an accepted standard. A printed out, notarized and multiple stamped paper is.
Plus, creating legal documents cost a lot, there is not an open source of legal documents, like Erik Byrenius made for Sweden and now Norway.
Trying to raise a crazy sum of money on my name and the idea of healing the world
When a newbie entrepreneur tries to raise money for the first time, some mistakes are bound to happen. I made plentiful.
I tried to raise way too much with an excuse of “We do not want to be in the fundraising mode all the time, we want to focus on a product” Luckily, people I asked this ridiculous amount of money from understood and gave me a super valuable feedback, and some encouragement “You were great. You need to be outrageous to be able to close a round :)”
The first year was supposed to be a hustle and I was supposed to make it through the challenges of not having money, finding new ways and use what we have to propel us forward. It was a character and endurance training.
Having close to nothing, living on dreams of a future success becomes a thing. That is ok when working for equity.
I am 40 years old. When I started this venture, my family saw it as a midlife crisis. They expected me to have a corporate job. “I am doing this, and even if you can’t understand why it is important for me, you could try supporting me”, and my sister has really delivered on that one.
As for people working with me, I tried from the very early on be open and talk about possibilities, or the lack of them. Maybe it was easy, having so little else to offer.
Finally it is also about managing my own expectations: what do I expect from the team, product, users, funding or myself?
I am learning how to turn the spark into a flame, and how to keep it alive by giving my team a purpose, empowering people to grow and develop new skills.
Leading takes skill and time, genuinity and love, character and fearlessness. That is what I want to champion in 2018.
Having to let one of my co-founders go
That entire situation left us feeling fragile and sinking. We recovered fast, and as it turned out, we found another great person to work with (actually, more than one).
After a seven month distance, I would not call this the hardest decision I had to make, it was an obvious decision to make. It took some emotional toll and it taught me how to minimize chances of this happening again.
Helped by friends
I was helped by many of my friends. I am ever so grateful to have them. I hope and wish to be the friend they were to me.
Our efforts got recognised
We started getting more and more positive feedback from our users. User feedback can get me energised for days. It is wonderful to read how we positively impact people’s lives.
We received Seal of Excellence from European Commission. This is when the things started progressing to better in $$ kind of way.
We heard our first “what you do is amazing” from an investor.
Focus, focus, focus
Every day, I deal with many different tasks, each requires dedication, and the ability to switch from short-term attention to deep thinking on projects. I wish to perfect this in the year to come.
Product and marketing
Two steepest learning curves I experienced this year come from product and marketing.
I am learning how to participate in making of the product: what is my place when I am wearing the CEO hat, and what should be my place when doing my part as a scientist. And…I am learning not to meddle in the rest.
I do marketing too. What does biology PhD have to do with marketing? Nothing and everything. It’s early stage startup, things need to be done.
This year had a good balance of fun and tough moments. I am learning what being a CEO trully means. Today, I believe a CEO is an accurate description of responsibility. It is also an accurate description of freedom to try doing good things your way, and impacting the world.
I started working on BOOST THYROID a year ago, and I had little knowledge, resources and means to do it. I had plenty of passion, determination and a supportive partner. I had friends/advisors and an idea where to start and where to aim.
How will the next year be? What will I learn? What will I be able to do? I am excited and curious to see.