Five years ago, I was a college senior, enamored with tech startups from Techcrunch articles with dreams of starting my own tech company.
Out of college, I joined Venture for America to get more exposure to startups, joining someone else’s startup in Detroit.
Then, feeling eager to take on the challenge of entrepreneurship myself, I started my own startup (Compass – a freelance web design marketplace) as a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed 23-year-old with dreams of building a billion dollar company.
In the three years that followed, I gained early traction with Compass, raised two angel rounds, built a team, did $500K in sales, discovered that our business model wasn’t working, laid off half the team to pivot, launched a new product (Sail), and ultimately sold that product and shut the company down.
It was quite the three-year rollercoaster.
As a first-time founder, those three years were filled with tremendous personal growth and first-hand learnings about what it takes to build a company.
They were filled with exuberant wins from doing things really well (doing $500K in sales and raising money doesn’t happen magically).
But they were also filled with soul-crushing defeats from making critical mistakes, personal struggles with the stressors that come with being a founder, and several encounters with burnout.
All-in-all, the company didn’t work out as I’d hoped because I got caught in hamster wheel of trying to grow a huge company, didn't always act with enough intention, and lacked the emotional distance to be realistic.
Now, my goal is to use my personal experiences, along with what I’ve seen up close with my friends’ startups, to help first-time founders (or aspiring first-time founders) maintain a healthy relationship with the business they’re building, be more intentional in how they build it, use shortcuts I’ve learned from the things I did right, and avoid the traps that I discovered from the things I did wrong.