Early-stage startup founder shares learnings as she reflects on what it took to finally ship it out.
By Chitra Rakesh (Founder, Chitsie)
It took me over a year, some patience and a lot of conviction to bring my website, Chitsie, to life. Yes, you may consider that insane in a land where startups are churned out over weekends. I do agree that is “forever time” in startup dictionary.
But if you’re looking to go live with clients and advisors; if you’re not an ex-Google employee or through an incubator program; if you’re not from Stanford; and if you haven’t even attended school in this part of the world – it is freaking hard. It was, for me!
And if I could do it, so can you.
I interviewed some really smart entrepreneurs and while they got free press, I learnt the most valuable lessons of corporate America. I began to build my professional network on LinkedIn. Patch also took me to conferences and events where I met most of my partners. One of them was Sepideh Nasiri of Women 2.0.
They say you’re lucky if you’re in Silicon Valley. Really? I say you still need to find a way to connect with the right people. Now being in Hollywood doesn’t mean you get invited to drinks with the stars, does it?
I’ve learnt a lot along the way…
Everyone in the world will not be in love with your idea. That’s fine.
People will leave you with: “I’ll get back to you.” Sometimes they will but most times they
will not. They don’t have to. Accept it.
Be Flexible. Change often. Move fast.
Listen to feedback and listen carefully. It’s precious and it’s free.
Be prepared for the unexpected. Don’t fret. Think solutions.
If someone says “No,” accept it. Accept it gracefully.
You don’t have to know how to code to start a tech company.
Make friends along the way. Take time to send hand-written “Thank you” cards.
If you think you can, go for it. It’s okay to fail. Living with “What if I’d…” is not fun.
And finally, don’t take yourself too seriously. Enjoy the ride.
Well, I was more fortunate than “99 No’s to get to that 1 Yes.” For me, it was 10 No’s and 8 Maybe’s before I found the lovely Sarah Gill of The Inspired Cookie. And then I met Charles Van Norman of StartupGrid. Like they say, if you want something really bad, even the universe conspires in helping you achieve it. Soon after, I signed up serial entrepreneur and author, Jill Salzman of The Founding Moms.
What was harder than getting clients was the decision to return a $500 check to one of the first launch partners, in the interest of users. It was equally hard to deal with an outsourced development team that required tons and tons of direction.
For all the bitter sour experiences, there have been some really memorable ones too. Debra Levin of The Center for Health Design thinks we should apply to Shark Tank. Arif Janmohamed of Lightspeed Ventures takes time to write back. Dylan Tweney of VentureBeat asks us to keep him posted (will tell you how awesome he is in another post).
What drives us even more is the wise guy, who just closed a small round of venture, telling us, “You think you can make this work? Have you lost it?”
The Chitsie adventure has just begun. Stay tuned!
Editor’s note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below.
About the guest blogger: Chitra Rakesh is Founder of Chitsie, offering a cool marketing solution to startups to promote their brands and build user traction in a super fun way via contests and games. Users get rewarded for smartly engaging with brands. She is a marketing and brand professional. She has worked in the software, financial services and e-learning space. Chitra also writes for Patch, an AOL online news resource. She has written for Hindustan Times and Times of India.