The Business Quest to Launch is Unending
They say the road to riches, financial independence and freedom; isn’t paved or littered with gold and it’s not a bed of roses. Although, it requires the daunting and relentless efforts of one’s blood, sweat and tears. With plenty of sleepless nights to go with it. If that’s the case, then get me another bucket. As this one’s already overflowing with a sour mix of my sweat, blood and tears.
With a free falling economy, a competitive job market and with the media industry constantly reminding us of the rise in employers looking to cut costs. By shipping all the jobs overseas, the job market has never looked so bleak. Nevertheless, what may look like a problem, is only an opportunity in disguise, as it gives youngsters the chance to strike out on their own and take control of their own futures by starting a business.
As a result of this, there’s been a corresponding rise of the entrepreneurship culture and movement. Haven’t you heard, everyone’s a CEO now. Oh yea, even if your business is a one man show or a one man band, you’re still a CEO … of yourself!
After reading the book ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ by Robert Kiyosaki; recommended by my dad. When I was only 15 years of age, the book started a blazing fire in me to start my own business and attain financial freedom. And ever since then, there’s been no looking back on my part. However, fast forward exactly 15 years later to the present day; and that blazing fiery fire; has now become more of a gentle burning ember that constantly needs to be fanned with the air of determination, perseverance and dedication.
Dedication to attain that goal of true and lasting financial freedom. Saying that running a business is tough and not for the faint of heart, would indeed be a grave understatement of the highest calibre. I’ve started a few many businesses in the past, which have all failed. Off the top of my head, about five. On the other hand, I have currently running or at least, giving it another stab. By having another go at it, with my next venture; my tech company called Phonetic Labs.
The best part about failing very much at pretty much every business you’ve tried to start, is that, it gets easier starting the next one and you have a better idea what to expect. With social media industry taking off, everyone’s trying to do something that’s tech related.
The toughest part about starting and running one’s business, is the daily uncertainty that plagues the entrepreneur’s mind. Uncertainties such as, where will the first customer come from? If they do, will they return? How will I grow my customer base? Will I run out of money? What if I take out a second mortgage on my home to fund my business? Suppose my wife (or husband or mom or dad or friend etc) hate me for spending all of their saved income?
How will I feed myself and my co-founders and staff? Will my car get repossessed because I haven’t made a payment in three months? Will I starve tomorrow? You know, you can only eat and live on Nutella and bread with cereal for so long, before you switch to Ramen Noodles. That’s been my story so far, noodles and Nutella.
These questions are all besides the fundamental question that plague people in my tech start-up industry, investment capital. Not everyone lives in San Francisco’s Silicon Valley Bay area you know, where most (not all) tech start-ups and media industry related entrepreneurs, get millions of venture capitalist flush dollars basically thrown at them. Some of us live in … Canada. The venture capitalists here don’t throw around money like their friends south of the border. Dear Silicon Valley investors, please come throw some money my way, as my tech start-up could really use a break.
The previous and current state of my Business
Noticing the increase in accidents brought about by cell phone distracted driving, and being the creative engineer that I am, I set out to solve this problem. Then I started Phronetic Labs, January 2014 to create a technology, called Intercell (intercell.io) that automatically and temporarily prevents any touch screen interaction and usage of the driver’s phone by the driver, when they are driving.
One of the tougher challenges about running my business, due to lack of investment capital, I wear and have worn, very many hats over the past two years deep in the trenches of entrepreneurship struggle. From patent attorney, going on the internet and learning the course on how to file a provisional patent, writing the patent description and then filling the patent.
To being the accountant and “money manager” (I mean my paltry paycheck; from my minimum wage job washing cars at Hertz, that I funnel into my start-up to feed my developer). As well as handling all the day-to-day activities and co-ordination. Yes, I do have another tech co-founder and he’s worn many hats too, with regards to the computer programming and product designs etc.
Trying to Raise Capital
In the two years of running my business; which we’re barely hanging on to by a thread; we’ve tried several times to get government funding grants, private investments, attended tons of tech conferences and pitched to quite a number of angel investors and venture capitalists, but all to no avail. We’ve heard every excuse and reason under the sun; “oh you guys product is not ready to go mainstream” or “it’s too early for me to invest my money in a hardware company” (not every company is in the social media industry you know) or “You haven’t demonstrated any or enough customer value proposition to convince me that your business is worth investing in” …
I’ve heard it all! And with every rejection, it gets tougher and tougher to carry on, quite frankly. You really begin to question if you’re entrepreneur material. Or, if your product is good enough to compete on the mainstream. Still, I know I am good enough. Everyone’s good enough to start, fail or succeed at their respective businesses.
The business directories; as well as news outlets; are full of new start-ups and companies popping up every year. Some in the social media industry space, others in the software/Hardware and IT space. Most of them will probably fail and park up shop within a few months of launching. As shown by statistics, others might barely keep their head above water for a few years. Before closing up the shop, a tiny few will go on to succeed. Right now, I’m still yet to see a penny from all my current and previous efforts over the past fifteen years.
At the same time, I know I’ve paid it forward. Everyday I remind myself that; yes, though I may live the first few years of my entrepreneurship life in struggles and hardships. Just like other people with regular jobs won’t even consider attempting, in the long run, with grit, determination and perseverance. Also, like all the greats and successful businessmen and moguls that have come before me and walked in my very footsteps. Knowing that one day, I’ll be able to live the rest of my life; Like most people can only dream and fantasize about.