About a month ago, my other startup half quit. He wanted to find something more stable, and after a year and a half of working incredibly hard on USpin, I definitely empathized with him. Still, it left me in a bit of a lurch. In my personal life, I had finished my MBA at Northeastern, and Jackie was just about to launch into her MFA at BU. Like it or not, it was time for change, and my friend leaving was the last push.
As you can imagine, the lurch was tough to get out of. There were a lot of ends that needed tying, and even more that weren’t even able to be tied (for the moment), and as with all things – balance. Working 10+ hours every day for months on end has a profoundly stressful effect on people, and it was time for a break. But what is a non-technical founder to do?
The answer, of course, was to bake bread. For some reason, I gravitated to the kitchen to experience the catharsis that comes with creating (or at least trying to create) something delicious to enjoy and share. Not being one to shy away from a challenge, I was determined to make gluten-free vegan bread.
I was a little disappointed when the first loaf came out looking (and tasting) kind of like a flax-infused brick, but disappointment is not a deterrent. I learned from the brick. I embraced the brick. And then I made a better brick. And another one. And eventually, through repetition and research, I found myself making edible, delicious bread.
It takes a lot for me to get discouraged, and I can tell you that seeing my friend leave USpin definitely did the trick. But without his departure, there might have been no brick. There might have been no failure. There might have been no edible, delicious bread. But he did leave, and there was bread, and the adventure is continuing.
Go bake a brick, and then bake another. Eventually you’ll bake enough bricks to build something great, and you’ll learn from each terrible loaf in between.
This was originally posted on Ethan’s Blog, which you can visit here.
This is a guest post by Horia, co-founder and CEO of Swipe – the better way to present and share information to anyone, anywhere – live.
Going from a weekend-baked idea to a working product and a running company is not easy and it should be the biggest goal after going through a Startup Weekend. You’re working with people you’ve only just met, you most likely all have jobs, and quitting work is not always an option.
In the case of Swipe, we happened to start in the world’s most expensive city, Oslo Norway – which comes with its own set of challenges. This is how we bootstrapped our way through our first eight months, a journey that took us from the glitz and glam of being on Europe’s biggest stage in Amsterdam, to living in a barn in the Norwegian countryside, to the heart of European tech in London.
When you’re starting a company, there’s never one right way to do it. I remember reading the advice of successful entrepreneurs telling you to quit it all, go for it one hundred percent if you want to have a chance, others saying to take it slow, don’t quit your day job – be careful. In our case, we chose to take the careful route, working part-time to pay the basic bills, cut out some of life’s luxuries, and work hard as time permits.
The careful part lasted about six months, when we decided to go all in and focus our full-time attention on Swipe. We couldn’t really afford to live the city life with no income (especially in Oslo) so we had to get a bit creative.
We left urban life and retreated to the countryside in the South-East of Norway with a simple mission: launch. Besides being a beautiful place in the summer and giving us much needed inspiration, it also gave us a lot of limitations – which is good. We had an empty barn, a place to sleep, a grill to cook on, a couple of bikes, and a weekly ride from our wonderful hosts to Sweden to buy cheaper food.
Our new home was galled “Galtebo”, literally translated to “Pig’s Den,” a very fitting name as it turned out.
We invested the equivalent of $250 in plywood, electrical equipment, and lighting. The plywood became three awesome desks – one big sitting desk, one standing desk, and one pretty incredible coffee table. We borrowed some chairs and a couch, and in 3 days we had a fully functional office – coffee station and all included.
We had porridge for breakfast, ham and cheese for lunch, and barbecue for dinner. We invented about fifty types of potato dishes and we just might dare to challenge Jamie Oliver to a barbecue-off and stand a chance of winning. The main goal was to keep the costs down, and with about $150 per week we could feed three people and get the occasional celebratory beer or wine.
Being secluded from urban life had its upsides too – there were no other people to hang out with and you waste no time commuting. We woke up, worked, played ping pong, worked, played football, worked, cooked, played some more ping pong, had some beers, slept, repeat. A free life, with just ourselves to account to and lots of work to be done.
We did that for about two months, which were the most crucial two months for our startup. We achieved a lot of what we wanted, got to know each other a lot better, and understood where we’re going with our company. We relocated to London shortly after, but I’ll always miss Galtebo and the peace and quiet in the countryside. We managed to bootstrap on a very tight budget in the world’s most expensive country, most of it in its most expensive city. But we couldn’t have done it without the help of lots of great people, without our part-time jobs, and without the encouragement of the thousands that declared their interest in our beta.
If you’ve just finished a Startup Weekend or you’re just starting your own company anywhere in the world – just know that with the right timing and the right amount of passion, you can bootstrap and survive – even if you’re in the world’s most expensive country and you have virtually no savings. An office can be anything, a home can be anywhere, and your food can always taste good.
You may not know someone that owns a barn, but find the equivalent in your country or your city – find that place that lets you focus and get things done. Be around people that keep you inspired and want the best for you and bring your team together. Keep it on a tight budget and dare to get creative, you have more time than you think. Don’t give up and never let go of any momentum you might have.
Check out more photos from our countryside barn office: http://swipe.to/2498
Swipe lets you create slide decks from any kind of media, share a link to anyone and control the presentation from any device live. When you swipe, the slides change for everyone who is tuned in. It’s been called the first real threat to the projector, the first two-way presentation tool, and the future of interactive media that can change the way crowds interact with content. Swipe was born at Startup Weekend in Oslo.