I recently decided that I would shut down my company.
I wanted to become successful fast because in high school I promised myself I would have a software company and be making money by the time I graduated and that didn't happen. Then I moved to California and wanted to try again to create a successful software company as a freshman in college and ran out of money just trying to live and go to school, without starting a company.
Then a miracle happened, I was accepted on ABC Family’s “Startup U” as one of ten contestants which satisfied my strong desire for instant gratification. I felt like I had in someway made it, even if I didn’t yet have the company I wanted. I decided to go after that by starting a company right after the filming of the show which is the company I just shut down. I needed that gratification.
I left my home at 17.
I got an internship before school started.
I left college to create a startup.
While in California working on my company I got a chance to meet the awesome Thiel Fellows, a group of young people who were awarded $100k to drop out of school and work on a project. Come to find out I was way behind, they had so many things I didn’t: lots of funding, press, huge and audacious startups as well as being crazy intelligent. I began to think I was behind, who was I to think I was killing it when there are 17-year-olds with hundreds of thousands to million in funding?
Around December, I got a call in the middle of the day informing me I was going to be put in collections the next day if I didn’t pay my debt. That shook me and made me finally stop lying to myself, I realized I started a startup to start a startup. Not to solve a problem, not because I had been thinking about it for years and needed to itch this burning scratch.
All these things I was doing sound great but were all counter-productive because of two things I lacked, patience and humility. I wanted to go to California because I was tired of waiting and wanted my friends to see me and say “Wow, John sure is a go getter!”. I wanted to start a successful company to be like the Thiel Fellows and hopefully, become one soon after. I wanted to be involved in startups right away so it seemed like I was doing something important and getting closer to my goals. I wanted all the success to pump up my ego immediately because I lacked…
Patience and Humility.
Out of the many lessons I learned in the failing of my startup is that I have to be willing to wait years for certain goals to be met and skills attained. While I am pushing for achieving those goals I should not let my ego stop me from doing what needs to be done. I have decided to go back to college after almost a year after dropping out, I will go to community college first and start babysitting to pay my way through. That won’t get me on Entrepreneur Magazine but it will help me reach my goals of getting into UF and graduating with savings. Not only do I want to graduate with savings I want to invest my entire seed round for my next company myself. Now that is a big goal that I couldn't accomplish if I was sleeping in my friends garage and not getting paid to work as I did before. I am going to finish my computer science degree and once I have that no matter what happens it is likely I will be able to get well-paying and awesome work. I remember once I was listening to This Week in Startups and the host, Jason Calacanis, said “If you can’t get paid more than $30 an hour to support yourself while you’re company isn't funded go back to school.” I remember laughing and thinking “Not me!” but he was right, the highest paying jobs I can get now are babysitting and waiting tables and those are not above $30 an hour.
Maybe I won’t be going to the fancy school at first or working for a startup (full time) while I finish my degree. I will have a chance to launch my side projects and books, save up, hustle my way into a great job probably before I graduate and I will be back with a vengeance. Now I know to do what needs to be done in order to achieve what is needed to meet my goals.
Now I have (some) patience and humility.