Life is all about perception, and the ever-increasing usage of social media continues to obscure the clarity between reality and fallacy amongst our peers, colleagues, friends, and family.
You’ll rarely ever see the guy who works a dull desk job 40 hours a week post about how miserable he is at the office, but your timeline will surely be filled with his weekend trip to Vegas. I think this notion of augmented perception holds especially true for entrepreneurs.
You’ll see the entrepreneur’s Facebook status about their feature in TechCrunch accumulate nearly 600 likes – but it doesn’t show the number of sleepless nights they experienced testing their product tirelessly, the weekends they spent working rather than seeing friends and family, their deteriorating bank account from investing into the company rather than their paycheck, the emotional stress of repeatedly being rejected by incubators, accelerators, and VC’s, their declining relationships with those who they were once close with, and the volatility of their livelihood with the potential for failure at any given moment.
My co-founders and I began working on VentureStorm towards the end of our sophomore year in college in 2014. (Quick shameless plug: VentureStorm is a web application that helps entrepreneurs and startups connect to talented software developers to advance their venture. VentureStorm provides opportunities for developers to gain experience, earn money/equity, work with promising startups, and get recruited for their dream job.)
We were each committed to bootstrapping a sustainable and profitable business while balancing an extremely challenging and time-consuming engineering workload at the University of Maryland. Although I will admit, we still managed to have plenty of fun at school- we each made tremendous sacrifices during our collegiate years to bring our business to where it is today.
During the semester, we developed a schedule in which we met 8-11pm each night at the very minimum. Although more often than not we ended up working well into the night, this ensured several hours of building the business each day to continue to advance our mission. After we began to really accumulate a community of users in the DMV area, we began to sponsor university hackathons all along the east coast to attract top developers to join our platform.
Just in the past few months we’ve spent weekends traveling to Michigan, Harvard, NYU, Georgetown, Drexel, Princeton, and several other universities. In fact, during our senior year of college there were very few weekends we actually spent in College Park.
On the surface, it may seem glorious being official sponsors and seeing our logo next to Google, Facebook, Uber, and other huge tech companies.
As of May 2016, my co-founders and I began our postgraduate careers going all in on VentureStorm. We have since worked around the clock developing an updated version of our platform, marketing to expand our brand awareness, networking to develop strategic partnerships, and responding to emails from users and affiliates 24/7. Building this business to be successful has become priority number 1, 2, and 3…and requires an almost unhealthy amount of sacrifice and commitment.
In fact, it’s a sunny 85 degree Sunday afternoon as I’m writing this piece, in-between testing the updated payment transactions on the site, all while a group of friends are BBQing a few streets down.
This post isn’t meant to be full of complaining, and I’m certainly not asking for any sympathy. My co-founders and I work tirelessly on VentureStorm because we absolutely love it. Because rather than working on someone else’s corporate schedule and building their vision, we’re building ours. We profoundly believe what we’re building can innovate the entrepreneurial and technology communities, change people’s lives, and build a better future for everyone.
Our platform helps bring people’s ideas to life, new innovations and technologies to market, and provides various opportunities for others to gain experience and grow as individuals.
I believe that holds true for any business at any stage, but even more so for early stage startups and entrepreneurs.
Failure is so common amongst startups, entrepreneurs are forced to filter any speck of negativity and instead magnify each and every success. Similar to any other sport- it would be foolish to display any sort of weakness to your competitors and fans.
Just know behind every success you see on the surface, there were countless hours of work, sacrifice, and failure before getting there.