30. December 2016–
Exercise more, spend time with family, keep things tidy: The New Year is an occasion when many stop to reflect on goals and growth.
The same is true for entrepreneurs, especially for startup founders, where the life of their newly-established company still hangs in the balance.
With 2017 right around the corner, the Heureka interviewed three startup founders on their plans for the coming year: Alice Thwaite of the Echo Chamber Club, Blacklane’s Jens Wohltorf and Sabrina Saleh of Digidip.
Each founder, and their respective company, is at a different stage: Thwaite, whose company is in its first year, wants to make sure she retains her passion; Blacklane will focus on localizing the business, while continuing to expand their Asia-Pacific footprint; Digidip is set to release their new look in the first quarter, in order to attract their new target group – “influencers.”
Despite their differences, three truths about entrepreneurship shined through these founders’ goals.
The business takes center stage
Accept that most things, including friends and family, will be overshadowed by your business.
“My life basically is the company,” says Digidip’s Saleh. “It’s sad…really sad when you say that.”
“Oh god! It’s really sad!” she says, with exasperation in her voice.
Saleh, who became engaged in April 2016, hopes to plan her wedding next year.
The “love of her life,” is also an entrepreneur and runs an incubator, meaning the two of them are really busy: “Just because of stress and the business, we cannot even sit down and think about [the wedding].”
Blacklane’s Wohltorf reflected and says he “hopes to have enough time, hopefully even a little more than in 2016, to share with [his] family and also see [his ] children grow up.”
Thwaite, who is in the process of transitioning the Echo Chamber Club from a hobby to a business, is putting her life in Berlin on hold and heading to Iraq. The trip will help her create content that shows the different points of view surrounding the conflict in Aleppo, Syria, she says.
It is hard to tell where you stop and where the business begins
Turns out, it is very difficult to separate oneself from the company. It is all interrelated, says Wohltorf.
Saleh agrees. She noticed that she became calmer, more patient and nicer, as her company grew. Especially compared to when she first started and the company’s turbulence reflected in her mood.
Thwaite is also familiar with this feeling. She found herself feeling great when her company achieved weekly growth of 23 per cent, but a bit down when things slowed.
“It is tricky to try and separate who you are with what your work is,” she says.
Forget redos, forget regrets (and network!)
“Not everything worked as planned in 2016 and not all decisions and directions succeeded,” Wohltorf shares. “But only because of failure are we able to learn.”
“In 2017, we will try to reward failure as much as possible,” he says. “If you don’t fail, you haven’t tried hard enough.”
Thwaite had not even thought about redos: “You can’t really do anything about it.”
But she did make mistakes and learn things in the process – things she will take with her into 2017. For example, how to best the distribute the Echo Chamber Club’s content, she explains.
Only Saleh had a redo for 2016. She said should have networked more. In 2017, the Berlin startup scene won’t need to look hard to find Digidip’s CEO, who says she will “be all over the place.”
“Invite me to your events, people! I’m gonna be there,” she says, in all seriousness.