“I distrust camels, and anyone else who can go a week without a drink.” ~ Joe E. Lewis
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My passion to create and build led me to a life filled with so many ups, downs, highs and lows. Living the startup life is not easy! I never lose the belief in the pot of gold at the end of the journey, but there's also the worry.. it may never come. Will the debt and grey hair be worth it if I don't make it there.. a place where my desire for travel can be filled on a whim or the chance of my bank account falling below zero are slim? I'm happy with my choice, but there's a separate voice that would advise most not to follow this path. If you're searching for stability you will not find it here. The odds of success are NOT but a tiny BLOT on a massive map of failures and distress. I've joined this community of dreamers and believers that inspire me to work harder and smarter every day and I know there is no other way I want to live. I've made mistakes and lost friends, but I've made more that will be there till the end. I'm surrounded by people that inspire me by their passion for creating... building and making their ideas a reality no matter the struggles they are facing.. that's the mentality that keeps me here. I've watched people hit the inevitable bumps that would make most run from the lumps, but instead grow from the failures and use the lessons to build something even greater. Many people see this road as a millennial choice that is made, but so many would have done the same when they were young and unafraid. There's opportunity to integrate technology in everything we see and it’s amazing to be part of this community and celebrate the successes of all those around me.
After ten years in San Diego I’m on number three of companies I’m considered a co-founder. Through it all I've learned an amazing amount about myself and what I believe is needed to succeed. It takes true passion for the mission and compassion for the people working so hard to make it happen. I've learned you must recognize your faults and learn how to work with them if you want to see the results. You must learn to take criticism and come out on the other side better because success relies on whether the team can work together. You have to forgive and forget and grow thicker skin since there is no way to win without a strong team within. Most importantly, learn to put yourself in other people's shoes and truly listen to their ideas so you don’t bruise egos and lose the trust they have in you. It takes a team to create and you must be able to relate to your role and develop the ability to lift those around you. Team is the most important thing. My brush with success helped me realize that any idea can win with the right execution. Ideas are aplenty and so many have a chance as long as the idea dance is done in a way that the only say that matters is the best. Group thinking is amazing to see when egos are left at the door cause the fact is we're all looking for the chance to succeed.
I’ve learned it’s HARD to raise money! I've been part of so many conversations and pitches that almost never feel like the misses they end up being. You must create a story that is compelling and continue to improve it since you must always be selling that idea and direction. I’ve learned to sincerely thank everybody for their time, but not to chase every piece of advice I hear. Too many have told me I have to convey the same thing the last person said to never say. I’ve built that one thing too many times and got no reply when it was done and I know now the ask is just an excuse. Filter ideas and advice together to make the story that much better as each ‘No’ comes in. There will be many!
Again… startup life is not easy, but it is extremely fulfilling if you are willing to live the roller coaster. Believe in the mission, the team, the direction and vision, but most importantly yourself. Confidence is contagious and so are ideas and inspiration. Think outside the box, never accept the norm and surround yourself with people that will push you and lift you during the inevitable storm. I thank all of the people in my life and career that have helped get me here. Thank you to my wife and family for accepting this choice that affects all those around me for better and worse. Your belief in me is everything. This is a community that celebrates each other and I have such an optimistic view of all that is coming and look forward to many successes for myself and the rest of this great group of dreamers I am privileged to be part of.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Pete Nystrom – Startup founder dedicated to using technology to improve the world. Pete has worked in the startup world for 20 years and is still searching for that 1 unicorn that will make his family proud, his friends jealous and have enough money to buy Freedom Boat Club, who kicked him out for crashing a boat after finishing a bottle of whiskey. He is currently the CTO of TheSchoolDay.com, a company he built to improve early education communication for his daughters, and CTO of CaddySnack.net, a company he built to improve the chances of getting a drink while playing golf.
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