By Alison Osborne
Hustle Harder Episode 20 Transcription
It’s no surprise that building a startup can be incredibly challenging and overall pretty messy. In our latest episode of Hustle Harder, we sat down with the CEO & Founder of Flindel and our friend, Ugochi Owo.
Throughout this episode we discuss some of the issues we’ve faced while building a startup and also how to maintain balance… or attempt to.
Anyways, let’s begin.
Steph: I'm really looking forward to talking about the ups and downs of running a startup. To start off, what has been your best and worst moment so far running Flindel.
Ugochi: I'm going to start with the highlight first. Best moment was when all of our software worked. Worst moment was when all of our software broke.
You think you have something and you're like, “oh my gosh, I'm so happy!”. And then it's like, “oh, nevermind”. It was that it all happened within a 24 hour time frame.
Steph: How did you handle it breaking?
Ugochi: So I was excited at first when things worked, because it meant that the technology that we developed was possible. So the good part was that it was possible and then when we ran it again, something just crashed. I was like, “wow, I'm gonna go home and take a nap”, because it's 11pm, everyone go home - we'll figure this out tomorrow.
So I feel like that's happened to us a lot to where you feel like you're doing something so right And then all of a sudden, your hopes and dreams just come crashing down and you're like… okay.
Ali: I feel like that perfectly represents startup life and being an entrepreneur, especially the fact that it happened in a 24 hour period. You're on such a high and then it just drops you to such a low because it's the best of the best and then the worst of the worst. And I feel like that's what it's like owning a startup all the time, you reach these amazing highs but then the lows are so low.
Steph: How do you deal with the ups and downs? I feel like we all have our ways and our antics of trying to deal with it. But I'm always interested to hear what other entrepreneurs do because frankly, I'm pretty terrible at it.
Ugochi: I take hikes and I take walks. I just go out into nature.
And for hanging out with friends and people the questions that everyone wants to ask me is around Flindel. So it's never like we're hanging out and we're just like watching Rug Rats or something - it's just always like, “I just thought about this idea for Flindel! Let's talk about that!”, and I just left to come to you guys. It's like just don’t talk about that thing that I'm trying to not talk about for the next hour or so.
So for me, the biggest way to disconnect has always been either hiking or I like going to art galleries, and like looking at stuff.
Britt: Do you do this alone?
Ugochi: I have a rule that I do have to do it alone. If I'm going to an art gallery with a friend or something, it's not leisure. It's just like, they’re ruining my alone time… but it's okay.
Steph: When you're in a startup, your friends and family tend to put you on this pedestal of like, “Oh, you have a startup, this is so cool!”. Which is great, but at the same time, it's almost overwhelming. And it puts a lot of pressure on you as an entrepreneur.
Britt: I totally get your point where you're just like, I don't want to talk about work. I just want to unwind, I'm here to spend time with you. Let's just talk about some stupid shit like relationships and get over it.
Ugochi: I think for me it's not even the fear of failure with regards to family and my close friends, it's more so the pedestal thing. People tend to (especially the more press you get and the more people who are talking about it) rave about things that you get. It distorts the view that people have from your regular life.
So for me, when I'm describing my life to people, I have two lives. I have the CEO, Ugochi life and then I have my regular life, which is just me in old t-shirts and like, eating... you know, bread and stuff. So in regular life, I don't enjoy the fascination of the space because explaining it to people from your real life, you have to kind of tone things down.
Britt: And then having our peers look up to us but they don't realize that in some situations we have lost incredible amounts of money. They don’t know that we’ve lost clients, they don’t know any of this.
Ali: I really get the two sides of it because I feel like even in my life, I have the work me and then I have the me that I am with my friends as well. And I think I need that part of me because it's where I can disconnect. They'll ask me questions, but they don't really know what I'm doing and what's going on. And I don't mind if they don't get it because that means I can fully disconnect from it for a bit and not have to think about that.
But at the same time, we had a situation in the summer that was quite a big fuck up on our part. And I did actually tell them in detail what had happened, which I normally don't do about work. And I just remember watching them react to it being like... Jesus Christ.
Britt: It’s like those little situations no longer paralyze you anymore.
Steph: I feel so desensitized to it. I feel like big things happen and I'm like… okay. With all that stuff that happened in the summer, it sucked at the time but it was needed for our business growth. But does it affect me as a person? Am I going to go home and cry about it? Well, maybe when it’s happening, but not anymore.
Ugochi: I just find that certain things will happen and I'm not reacting the same way that I might have for this company.
Have you guys ever heard the saying memento mori? It sounds grim, but walk with me. So it means remember that you must die. When you kind of have that understanding in your life that life is very sporadic and unguaranteed, it causes you and forces you to take delight in like the little things.
Steph: What is a challenge that you're facing that isn't talked about right now in the startup world?
Britt: For me, I don't read Forbes, entrepreneur or into like entrepreneur news because I don't give a shit. Like all you hear are people's big wins. I surround myself with news about people going through stuff.
Ali: I understand why they do this but I feel like when a lot of people are talking about the challenges, it's always after the fact that it's happened and after they've reached their success already. So you're hearing it as, oh, okay, you went through this really rough time, but you're so successful now. What was it like in the moment? Something that we're trying to do with this podcast is talk about it in the moment and some of the struggles that we're having at the time.
Steph: I agree. I feel like it's a defense mechanism a lot of the time as to why you wait until you're okay because when it's happening in the moment, and you actually don't know if things are going to be okay or not, then it's almost like you don't want to freak people out. And so you'd rather wait until it's okay and have that wall up so it has a happy ending.
But is it important to talk about it though, maybe if you're not comfortable about it, that's cool. But I feel like it's still important for people to be telling their stories in the moment in a sense of getting a group of support in a way of like, knowing that you're not alone.