She told me this would happen.
She told me...
That I would have to make a choice.
- Neo, The Matrix
It's been two years since I quit my job to start my own startup. Many of my views toward the world have since changed in fundamental ways I can never go back.
I have started to pay more respect to job functions like BD, sales and operations. I started to realize engineering is one tiny tiny part of what it takes to build a successful company. There are many other critical aspects of making a good product, like knowing what problem the product is solving, design the functions to address customer's needs, UI/UX that make sense and not to confuse users. Moreover, it's not always about building the product. Selling and running the product is equally, if not more important.
My past experience with BD and sales colleagues wasn't always good. I generally think sales are slick talkers, bro down each other at the office all day, and are not doing any real work. I tried to avoid interacting with them when I can, because I am the 'doer' writing code, and 'talk is cheap'. All that has changed when, I had to sell to customers at my own startup. It turned out, sales is freaking hard and I absolutely struggled at it. It takes a lot of will power to follow up with clients day after day, again and again, while maintaining a high level of positive energy. Also, unlike what i thought before, talk is NOT cheap. It literally results in revenue. If you can't talk someone into buying your product, it doesn't matter what you have built. I wish I had learnt more from my sales and BD colleagues while I had the chance.
Another big change is how I started to treat money differently. I become accustomed to measure money in bigger units - hundreds of thousands, millions, tens of millions and so on. Not that I actually have millions of dollars, not even close to it, but I certainly started to think about those numbers ten times more frequently.
I used to project my savings based on paychecks. Minus living costs like mortgage, food, insurance, utility bills etc, I set goals on how much money I would have by end of the year. Now, after two years of not having a payroll while burning a lot of cash on my startup, my personal finance structure has changed to something like 95% of my money is in investments, leaving very little cash at hand to go by. I become a true gambler, as if I can never take enough risks. Economy analysis fascinates me, geopolitical news worries me. Stock market pales in comparison with crypto currency simply because you cannot trade 247. I can hear my own hunger for money grow inside of me, so much so that things used to bring me joy, like good cloths, or a nice car, don't anymore.
The stories make the news are no longer remote stories, but from people I know, or someone within my reach. The Silicon Valley wealth making legends and success paths are seemingly tangible. It's also a weird feeling - on one hand, the valuation of my company is in several millions. Since I own close to half of that, it makes me a multi-millionaire, at least on paper. On the other hand, when I look at my bank account, often times there's less than $200.
'But it's ok', I tell myself, 'I'm onto something big now.