Call me old fashion, but I believe very much in doing things yourself and building a strong foundation. It takes time, but you know what, good things take time. I do not want to compromise on foundations and do a quick shortcut. It just doesn’t seem like a good trade off. Everything I build is to be forever. I’m not here for the short-run. I’m here for the long-run, even when we are all dead. (Economics jokes are 10/10.)
Once you carry your own water, you will learn the value of every drop” — African Proverb
I came across this quote today and it resonated very well with me. To me, building a company is also to go through all the process of discomfort and struggle. If the company is like water, I want to carry it all the way, and appreciate the value of every drop.
That is why I do not want a single cent from my family or fundraising. Sure, my mum lent me $5,000 because I didn’t want to take them out from my other investments. But overall, I know I can fundraise and ask for money to scale quickly. I also knew that I do not have the right foundations yet, to scale so quickly then. So I took my time. And built the foundations all on my own, with plenty of help and (non-monetary) support from the kindest people in the world.
I believe that the fast growth model in startups is not sustainable, if one does not have the right foundations. I’ve worked in startups and started my own startups. Companies fail when they grow too fast because you do not have the right processes and principles in place. Yes, you can raise money easily, but how you use the money to get real 10x, not paper 10x, is key.
And I believe you can get that from walking every mile in the process and understanding what is required. There, you can find where money is a leverage to get you through the process faster and more efficiently. Without first finding those processes, it is not possible to scale.
So, I want to carry my own water. I want to walk a mile in the desert. I want to experience all the obstacles and inefficiencies. Because then, I appreciate the results more and I know how to leverage resources to improve it. People grow too fast comfortable. It makes them anti-fragile. And we do not like that.
I only want money when it comes with strategic partnership benefits. Money as a way to bind the “skin in the game”. Capital is fungible and everywhere. But strategic partnerships and synergies is what I care about.
Carry your own water. Appreciate each drop.
I’m still absolutely obsessed with my work. I eat, breathe, sleep and think about my work. Not in an obsessive way, but in a “I’m privileged to do this” way. And perhaps some day, I find someone who will not cover my mouth when I keep talking about my work. (I know my bf, V and E are super supportive of my work and what I do. They also are quite tired of listening to me babbling about the same topic in different context all day long.)