In honor of finals week, we have some encouraging perspectives for female founders from our recent Series W interviews. We ask them: What was your WFIO (we’re f***** it’s over) moment?
We’d be lying if we said we didn’t have major let down at least once a month, and frankly, you have setbacks almost every week. Overall, the process of building a company is a series of amazing highs and scary lows. Just to give one example, we had our hearts set on a particular distribution channel that seemed perfect for our product. We believed this was our path to scaling and worked towards this goal for about a month, but the more we learned, we realized it wasn’t the answer we had hoped it would be. It was hard to admit to ourselves we needed to pivot, but we have since completely changed our long term go-to-market strategy.
I’ve never had a moment where I’ve truly thought that it was over. Perseverance and the ability to approach every problem that comes your way as a challenge to overcome is key to success. You just have to solve one problem at a time. Having said that, there have been a lot of tough OMG, WTF! moments- sometimes, even tears and “I can’t get out of bed today” moments. One of our earliest setbacks that hurt the most was when we lost one of our pilot vendors before we even launched. When you put your heart and soul into building something, and someone tells you it’s not good enough, it’s hard not to take it personally. Now when a situation like that happens, I try to separate it from my personal feelings of self worth, learn from it, and move on.
Ohmygosh. It’s hard to pick. If anyone isn’t having those moments on a regular basis they are either lying or not doing it right. Part of being an entrepreneur is having a blind belief that your business is not going to die so we think less about it being “over” but have WTFHWD (WTF have we done?) moments all the time. We run a two-sided marketplace and are always running experiments on both sides. In the pursuit of finding the 100% approach on something we often have to stop doing the 80% one, risk being stuck with a 10% one and always force ourselves to try new things – that’s when the real WTFHWD moments hit but that’s the kind of agility and innovation you get an unparalleled opportunity to play with that you don’t get in a big company.
Can’t really think of getting that close to that moment yet, thankfully! However, when a significant strategic investor we had lined up here in the US was delayed, we had to quickly re-think our funding strategy and act fast. We had thought we had our ongoing growth funding plan “sorted” with this potential partner. As a business, we talk career and workforce agility all the time and this was one of those moments when we had to be agile and responsive ourselves. Jo and I had a back-up plan launched within 24 hours of the news and got an incredible reception once again from our investment community, largely because we had built a reputation for delivering to our milestones and keeping our community really well-informed with our quarterly updates. So the learning was, if you do the right things early, it can help enormously when faced with setbacks.
We definitely have had some hairy moments with running our own bootstrapped company. When we were fairly close to wrapping this phase up for release our lead developer landed in the hospital for a while with a collapsed lung and our designer had a death in the family. Things halted for a bit and seemed dire but we knew that start-up life would throw us many curve balls yet. When you’re in WFIO mode it’s hard to see the light but we took a deep breath and threw ourselves into taking action. We worked through it and with the support