My last day at Google, I was very excited..startup life here I come!
Startups are hard, everyone says this, I remember before starting Fashpa, reading this post by the Igwe of Nigerian Startup scene and thinking Bwah just how hard can it be, isn’t everything in life hard anyway. I mean I didn’t expect it to be super easy walk in the park, but I just thought everyone overused the whole “hard life” startup thing. Maybe its was a really good shield to try and prevent other eager beavers like myself from quitting our comfy jobs and diving in. I have a good product, i have relevant experience, heck, I even worked in a few startups, I understand my consumers, there is clearly a large market, I have a team in place, I mean just how hard can hard be?
1 year later, am like scratch that, this thing is difficult bruh.
I dont think tech founders, especially Nigerian founders talk about in real tangible terms what hard means, and am not sure I will do it justice myself in this blog. But the closest thing I can describe it is like a big roller coaster ride. You experience high highs and low lows sometimes in one day, sometimes in 5 minutes. The bad part, it only seems to get harder.
If you are a solo founder then its even more difficult because you are carrying all this alone, (memo to anyone reading this find a cofounder if you can) especially if you have long used up your talking about your startup credits with friends and your partner ( I have exhausted mine, need new friends) so sometimes it is a hard and lonely journey
Reality Bites: Fashpa HQ, some ungodly hour, everyones left, in the kitchen crunching numbers
Another thing that makes it harder, is everyone is constantly asking you, how is it going? and rather than saying “bruh, this thing no easy oh” you probably find yourself saying some version of its going great, swell, fantastic, all our metrics are up, VCs are banging on my door, customers dont stop talking about us, all of which maybe true, but all those things could also be the reason why you have not slept properly in months! You ever ever heard of mo’money mo’problems?
Next the famous question work/life balance… you have a startup? you probably dont have one.. your life is just work and the occasional time you spend with other people trying not to think about work. In a place like Nigeria, as a solo female founder people will also make judgements on what that working hard should mean for you, sometimes this people will include members of your own family who will say “dont work to hard on this thing oh” as if one is expected to treat this as a side hobby and quit and become a housewife at the first sign of difficulty and other statements that are just specially created to make your startup life even harder .
Finally startups are hard because they are violent places, not ray rice violent, however building a team under the auspices of hyper growth, bootstrapping, below market conditions pay and promise of a brighter tomorrow, means you will lose some people along the way. Sometimes this will be good people. I was on linkedin yesterday and the amount of people Konga has lost to Jumia and the other way round is just as I said, violent.
Perhaps all this happens to really test your mettle to really make sure you are ready for success when it comes knocking or maybe they are just hard because they are hard things.. I dont know, sway I dont have the answers…