I watched my mother fail with her small local market business and get herself into serious debt. She kept investing money to improve it but was eventually destroyed by the big chain stores. She paid her loan by taking out new loans. An evil spiral I do not recommend to anyone.
I watched my elder sister and her husband working tirelessly on their parquet business for over a decade in order to make their dreams come true. They are a great team: he is an excellent sales & production lead while she takes amazing care of the office and logistics. Producing and selling their product were never a problem, managing people has been the main challenge throughout the years. They have dealt with lots of stress every day but they made it through. The business grew immensely and they are now living their dream. Still working hard, but no regrets. Years ago I never understood how they have so much energy and determination. Only now do I understand.
Seeing how difficult it is to have your own business, I swore not to ever build my own but instead appreciate my work-life balance while having a consistent income & successful career. I have always been career-minded and worked hard in all the jobs I have done. However, after work, I appreciated the fact that I could just forget about it and enjoy my free time.
A few years ago my partner, Jack, and I had the dream to one day work remotely from anywhere we wanted. In 2019 this still seemed like a distant dream. We lived in London, he was a successful data scientist, while I was an accomplished business analyst. Both of us had simple starts with all kinds of jobs in our twenties, lived in many countries, discovered many cultures, studied hard, worked hard and enjoyed life. We both are positive thinkers and always see the opportunity in every problem. Those experiences were extremely important in shaping our future.
Then 2020 came, covid hit and remote working kicked in everywhere. We are both adventurous and make decisions fast. Nearing the end of the first lockdown, we gave up our apartment in London and moved to Barcelona. We craved the sun, sea and remote working. We saw the opportunities of remote work coming and championed our way through. Our dream came true, we were living in our favorite city in an amazing apartment, enjoying lots of beach sports, having great jobs and the opportunity to work from anywhere.
So where was the turning point? Coming to that soon.
One day my partner came up with a SaaS (Software-as-a-service) business idea, which stemmed from a pain point he encountered in his work. The idea was brilliant, but I instantly felt anxiety about the thought of building our own business.
We decided to work on a small proof of concept and consider it a part-time hobby project while both of us kept our jobs. This made me feel better. Jack would build the product (yes, frontend, backend, design, data analysis, data science) while I take care of the business side. The concept worked and we were excited. We saw how well we can work together, bounce ideas off each other, and improve them.
In the next few weeks, we both got busy and did not have much time to plan and work on it further. We were disappointed that our daily work took over. We were both very hard working at our jobs, we always gave 100%, nothing less. Always put our hearts into everything we do. The more time passed, the more we felt the fear of missing out by not continuing. We realized we do not want to die without trying. As Jack is the one building the product, we decided he would go full-time on the project, while I remain part-time. We knew we did not have to invest much money into the business, rather our time, brain capacity and a bit of savings. So this is a calculated risk that I was happy to embark on. We also decided to change our home to a smaller and simple one to prolong our runway.
The journey looked overwhelming, we did not know anything about start-ups, but we knew there is so much free learning material out there, it only depends on us. We both started to read articles, blogs, signed up to start-up communities, did technical workshops, watched countless videos on best practices, the list goes on. We took it step-by-step, day-by-day to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Imposter syndrome is a frequent visitor in our life, but we love to challenge ourselves.
We also decided not to overwork to avoid burnout. Yes this meant, things are moving slower, but healthier. We still have our sports and amazing friends and nice Catalonian wine in our life, which are essential to our well-being.
Now the real turning point came. We started to be positively obsessed with the project, hungry to learn and implement what we learned. We also read inspiring stories from other founders which motivated us. Continuous excitement was and is still on. A friend of mine told me “Enjoy the excitement! It’s good, it makes you feel alive”. I cannot agree more.
We are a few months in and a few months away to have our MVP (minimum viable product) ready. We follow best practices, but we also listen to our guts. People say, most startups fail. We want to focus on the journey and not on the destination. There is no chance of failure here, all the knowledge we got on this journey is already an amazing win.
I am a big fan of ‘The greatest Briton of all time’, I live by his quotes among others: “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”- Winston Churchill
Impressive ! Knowing you personally I can totally see how big of an accomplishment this is already! Onwards Andi! So proud of you!
Terrific writing Andrea. I’m sure anyone who reads this can’t help but wish your venture to succeed!