We launched Swayy as a public beta in September 2013. We were acquired by SimilarWeb in July 2015.
During these 22 months, I learned a lot about what a startup actually is, made a shit load of mistakes, and went through the biggest personal change of my entire life.
The following are my lessons learned (in no particular order) — about building a startup, the culture, partners and myself.
These were and are true for me — some or all of them may be completely untrue for someone else:
- You have to learn to work under pressure, and perform well. When your back is against the wall, use the wall as a backrest.
- #1 startup killer — not being able to distinguish between feedback and noise.
- Don’t ever lose focus.
- You’re going to experience financial insecurity for a long period of time — you’ll get used to it eventually.
- Time is your most expensive resource.
- Easily the best advice I have ever received: You meet people whether you want to or not. You have no idea what the person in front of you knows, or how they can help you — Ask questions.
- The term Future is what happens up to 6–12 months ahead. Don’t worry about what comes after.
- Answering “I don’t know” means you’ve discovered a new question you need to explore, and that’s a wonderful thing.
- Grow your company naturally, as your business grows, not because other people are growing theirs.
- Get ready for sleepless nights filled with all-consuming thoughts and concerns. Sometimes for weeks.
- I found the harder you work, the less you feel you’re working.
- Vision != Blindness. Think big, dream high — but don’t be blind or stubborn.
- Successes are momentary and feel good. Failures are memorable and painful.
- Enjoy the journey.
- Acquire the art of smiling when things are really shit.
- Actually, smile more regardless of the situation, people have a thing for smiling.
- Share with people what you are doing now, what you need and where you want to be.
- Be prepared with your three wishes, for when you’ll meet a Genie. You will.
- Do yourself a favor, and teach yourself to self-promote. I know how hard it is.
- Sometimes, all you have is a pair of headphones.
- Other times, all you need is a pair of headphones.
- Conferences are for people who have time for them.
- Office = Home.
- Co-founders = Family.
- Coffee shops are expensive, and will give you a caffeine problem.
- Don’t forget to invest in yourself — have hobbies and fields of interests thataren’t related to your startup or market.
- Luck only comes to those who try.
- Apathy is a gift; it’s easier if you are an apathetic person.
- Jeff Bezos said “Your margin is my opportunity” — Invest in growth.
- You don’t have to rest — you have to make sure you don’t get burned-out.
- You are so deep inside everything that happens with your startup. Every once in awhile stop to look at things from the outside — the bigger picture.
- Always know where you want your startup to be 3,6,12 months from now, and define what you need in order to get there.
- Measure your own work.
- DON’T NEGLECT YOUR SPOUSE.
I’m now learning my next 34 lessons.