Raising a child is no sinecure. Because with regard to their parents, kids grow exponentially in every way. You are, in fact, at a halt, while your child is changing at the speed of light.
As a parent you’re not running ahead, you’re running behind.
And so you make mistakes. Such as:
· not solving problems, for example because they seem unsolvable (hello child that refuses to sleep!);
· wanting to solve things that aren’t even a problem yet (“watch out, be careful!”);
· having unrealistic expectations (“yes you can/you should know how to do this by now/it’ll come “);
· being inconsistent (“no, oh well, uhm okay go on then… “);
· not setting rules and limits (“sure, no problem. “);
· fighting back/calling back (negative attention, so good!);
· not recognizing or not changing the things that don’t work.
I’m guilty of at least uhm… seven of the mistakes above.
As a parent you are bound to make mistakes.
This isn’t such a bad thing though, because mistakes offer you the chance to learn something. Enter: experience.
The only source of knowledge is experience. You need experience to gain wisdom.
Provided that they aren’t too big, you learn the most from the mistakes you make. If you can and want to recognize them. I’m telling you this as a husband, as a father, as a person and as an entrepreneur.
I’ve been an entrepreneur for more than 25 years now and during those years I’ve made countless mistakes. And maybe I’m mistaken, but I think that they’ve made me wiser.
And that the list of parenting mistakes I made is not only exclusive to fathers and mothers, but that these are exactly the mistakes start-ups make.
As brand-new founders, early last year we started DAISYS with a rock solid and clear idea. An idea around a real existing problem. With a global market we know inside out.
We composed a complementary Founding Team with all the necessary technical, commercial, and financial knowhow. We wrote a realistic business plan. Made a visually attractive, understandable, and brief pitch deck. Hired a brilliant Deep Learning engineer. Built a Proof of Concept that knocked everyone off their socks. We even put some of our savings in the venue, to get through those first months.
And then we made a mistake.
We went looking for money. Of Venture Capitalists.
Money seeks destination, we thought. And there’s money all around, so let’s go and get it. We thought, VCs will be standing in line for this brilliant idea. Bring in that first round of funding!
We spoke with a considerable number of different parties. We saw many happy and marvelled faces when we demonstrated our technology. Yet every time, they had just one more question.
“Have you got paying customers yet?”
Guess what the answer to that question was!
No matter how great your idea/business plan, pitch, technology/team is, traction is key. Traction, paying customers, is the final, independent proof that your idea has value.
For VCs, the presence or absence of traction is the decisive factor whether or not to invest when the rest of your plan is in order.
We’ve underestimated this. We had everything planned and executed until the very last details. But paying customers we thought, they would come after the funding (hello unrealistic expectations!).
So that funding? It didn’t happen.
Of course, you can learn from mistakes. Better yet, this mistake offered us the best lessons we could have wished for.
Here they are:
· you must carry the biggest risk of your idea yourself: if you really truly believe in something, then invest in it yourself. If need be, even with the help of Friends, Family and Fools
· don’t be afraid to make critical decisions when needed: is something not working? Then adjust the plan!
· focus, focus, focus to get your product on the market as fast as possible: prevent from overdeveloping and ending up in the Valley of Death (read: running out of money at the last minute).
So, at the end of last year, we decided to learn from these lessons and to — as founders — invest a considerable amount in DAISYS until after her market introduction. And to stop looking for money but instead, making sure we go online and get paying customers as quickly as possible. We must pay for the Pampers, Olvarit and our baby’s first bicycle ourselves.
It got us a positive response from the VCs we spoke with. And warm contacts, because we still keep them informed about our lightning-fast developments (hello VCs, nice that you’re reading along!).
Meanwhile, our team has been scaled up and settled in, our plans have been (realistically) updated and we are making great strides, so that sometime after the summer we will be able to present the first version of our revolutionary product to the world. Or not, because parenting constantly confronts you with your own limitations; there’s no guarantee of success.
What that product is exactly? You’ll read it in my next update.
CEO | DAISYS
Voicing the Future Now