The Startup Journey - powered by Precursa

EPISODE 9

Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart…

In this episode, we get real, raw, and revealing about the emotional journey of the startup entrepreneur. As we’ve been on this ride, so much has shifted, sometimes in a very short period of time, and the emotional and mental impacts of those (very normal) shifts can’t be underestimated. If you’re wondering if you have what it takes to go the distance, dive in with us and find out.

In today’s episode, Cynthia shares about the reality of pitfalls while building a startup.

 From Cynthia’s experience, the beginning of building a startup, before you have traction or proof of success, is extremely difficult. It takes a willingness to confront confidence and negative thoughts in a whole new way. Additionally, it takes commitment, drive, and ambition, and it will require 150% of your time. This conversation comes from a place of Cynthia feeling the weight of her previous career mistakes and how they are affecting her currently. The world of early entrepreneurship can be lonely, demoralizing, and confidence sucking. Mindset plays a huge role in creating success as an entrepreneur and business owner. A huge benefit of having a team of co-founders is having others there to air your concerns to, who can help pick up the slack.

Then, Cynthia goes on to share some of her own experiences with starting and selling companies, dating back to when she was just 19. Having come from a family with unsteady finances, she was never really educated on the subject matter. This led her to understanding the importance of teaching young kids how to handle their own finances to set them on a path of success. She elaborates on the importance of having community during the journey.

Ultimately, if the passion for what you’re doing isn’t enough to overcome the loneliness, fear, and down time it entails, it likely isn’t the best route for you. Your ability to stick with it during the difficult times will play into how much success you are able to build down the road. Entrepreneurship is an all or nothing feat and it takes tireless work and dedication. As the Founder of Precursa, Cynthia is committed to being transparent about the ups and downs she is experiencing firsthand. Even if Precursa doesn’t sell for as much money as expected, if it is able to end the story of an entrepreneur putting everything they have into a business venture that will never succeed, then in Cynthia’s book, it will be a success. Be honest with yourself about the stomach and heart you have before you embark on this journey.

Be sure to like, share, and subscribe to Precursa on your favorite podcasting platform and tune in for the next episode!

Email us (startup@precursa.com) with any questions or comments. Check out our website (https://www.precursa.com) for more information on getting your startup rolling.

Straight to you from Denver, Colorado, this is Precursa: The Startup Journey. We share the ins and outs of building a tech startup from inception to launch to revenue and beyond. If you’ve ever wondered what building a startup from scratch really looks like, you’re in the right place. With full transparency and honesty, we reveal it all about Precursa on our ride from idea to exit: the wins, the lessons learned, and the unexpected twists and turns.

Hello everyone. Welcome back to Precursa: The Startup Journey and what a startup journey it is. First of all, I’ve gotten some comments that the audio has gotten better. And the answer is yes, we have sorted out all of, or most all of our issues related to where we’re recording and the sound quality of everything. So I think we’ve settled into a nice rhythm with that. Obviously, other than, you know, when we have guests, if they don’t have a super crazy mad daddy podcast set up at home. So there’s that, but today I want to, I’m going to deviate. So originally, you know, we said, okay, we’ve got our founder session last week. And then I said, I wanted to talk about what it’s like to see something you created, you know, that experience of it coming to life and knowing that you’ve communicated it in a way where other people are able to get on board and actually start communicating your vision for you, right. And I do want to talk about that, but I’m going to do that next session because there is a reality to building a startup, being an entrepreneur, that I think is really important that we talk about. And the reason that this is really present for me is because I’m having one of these few days, week, you know, whatever, where being an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart. What I mean when I say that is there are, especially in the beginning. I mean, before you’ve got some traction and before you have proof of what you’re doing, it’s hard. It takes a resolve. It takes a willingness to confront all of the things that make you lack confidence and all of the negative thoughts that you have in a way that just nothing else in the world does. And what I mean by that, so we’re doing the fundraising thing again, we’ve got lots of avenues and lots of opportunity, but we, we had one session with, with a very, very good friend of mine yesterday, and really the purpose of the session was he’s someone who has invested in startups, he’s invested in other things that my fiancé and I have done. He knows the tech world. He knows the startup world. He knows the, the investment world. And so he’s helping us hone, refine, tweak, and just really get solid on the pitch, right? Because the more solid you are on the pitch, the easier it is to pitch to however many people you need to in order to get what you need so that you can keep going, right. But the thing I love about this, man, is he someone who asks lots of questions, which is phenomenal because when he gives you his time, he has no problem with you taking as much of it as you need to ask as many questions as you need. And his insights and his viewpoints are so incredibly brilliant, right? And incredibly valuable. Unfortunately, what I came out of it with was… you’ll hear me sometimes talk about the entrepreneurial gap, right? Product-market fit is all about filling the gap between idea and viable business, and idea validation falls in there and raising capital falls in there. And you know, but there’s this huge gap. And the gap is the thing that you have to traverse. You have to build a bridge or you have to walk down into the canyon and across it that way and climb back up the other side, like, you know, there’s lots of different ways to traverse that gap, but it’s actually not an unreasonable comparison to hiking the Grand Canyon. The challenges that you face are very, very unique because you are likely someone, if you’re going to be successful at this, you’re likely someone who is incredibly passionate about your idea.

04:51

You are ambitious. You’re probably someone who’s fairly driven, but there’s also this unique thing where you will be expected to put a hundred percent of your time, 150% of your time and your energy and your focus and your effort into this thing. And you will want to do that, but you’re also battling until you get traction: How do I pay my bills? If, if you’re not someone who’s independently wealthy and I’m not. I have had big successes in the past. I’ve sold two companies, as I’ve talked about many times before on, you know, other people’s podcasts and been interviewed about, I’ve also made some huge mistakes. And one of the things that I’ve been challenged with since this conversation with my friend and my mentor yesterday, is just feeling the weight of having made those mistakes and lost what by anyone’s standards is a lot of money in the course of my life because what I know it right now. What I know now is if I hadn’t done that, I’d be in a different position. I’d be in a position where I could take half a million dollars or three quarters of a million dollars and invest it in myself to keep the engine running. And it wouldn’t be a problem. And it wouldn’t be a question, right? So depending on your situation, I mean, I’ve talked a couple of times about this podcast called how I raised it. It’s a great podcast. And if you get a chance, you should listen to some of the episodes. So many people’s stories are really, really different about how they went about things. Some people realize that there was a particular market like San Francisco or LA or New York, where they were just going to get more traction with investors. And so they literally picked up their lives and moved there in order to be in the culture and be in the space, right. And then there’s people who, you know, I’ve heard a couple, not very many, but a few stories of people who are like, yeah, I worked for a VC or, you know, my, I have someone in my family or very close friend or a mentor who has, who has money and invests. And they just gave me half a million dollars and said, hey, go figure out a cool idea and you know, no strings attached, but I want to give you a shot. You know, that’s pretty rare. Mostly this is an incredibly difficult, incredibly lonely, incredibly potentially demoralizing and confidence-sucking thing, getting to the place where you can launch yourself in the market and get traction so that you have some proof and getting funding to get to that place. Now I’m feeling this only because the conversation yesterday, I was really confident going into, you know, we basically did it like a mock pitch, right. And, and I, I was, felt very confident about the way we were telling the story and the way that we were talking about what we’re doing, going in. On the other side of it, I realized just how much more work there is to do to make it more succinct and to get it to where we can say it quickly. And we’re communicating it fast. I mean, I think last week we talked about the 99 second pitch event that I, that I went to and just realizing, you know, I, I was telling the guy we were talking to last night and he said, yeah, he said 90 to 120 seconds. That’s how much of their attention span you get. And he said to stop because they’re, they’re not interested. It’s because that’s all the time they have to think about anything. And that’s, that’s the literally the limit of their attention span. And then they’re like, I’m making a decision and I’m moving on. So if you haven’t said something compelling in that time, you probably have lost them. You know, you get a whole 30 minutes in a lot of cases to pitch, you know, pitching questions, but it’s really that couple of minutes that it’s either grabbing them or not. And seeing how much better we need to get at talking about this and telling the story. And for some reason, it just hit me in a way that was like, oh, it feels so far. And I, I’m wrestling with this. And I, and, and so that’s why I wanted to talk about this today, because I think, I think it, this is really important because mindset plays a huge role in your ability to create success as an entrepreneur, to create success as a business owner, to create success as a startup builder, you know, a startup entrepreneur, right. And when I say mindset, what I mean is I have some good people around me that I know I can express fears. I can express frustration. I can express that feeling of demoralization, of realizing that the only reason I’m having to do this work to ask for money right now is because of some poor choices or some expensive choices, I’ll say it that way, that I made earlier, you know, in my life and in my career. And if I didn’t have people who got it, if I didn’t have people who believed in me, if I didn’t have people who were willing to help, not meaning, you know, that they can’t give me the money that I need, right. But they can help in the ways that they can, you know, Paige and Sarah are amazing partners.

10:37

And one of the ups of having co-founders, if they’re really as invested as you are and they really get it, and they really want it as badly as you do, is that when you have one of these times, usually all of you aren’t on the downs at the same times. Frequently, you’re all up at the same times. But usually when, when somebody is going through the feeling of demoralized or, oh my gosh, this is really hard, you know, is this even worth it? And like all of the doubt and the fears and all that stuff, usually only one of you is in that place. So if you have one co-founder, if you have a couple co-founders or a couple people on your team or whatever it is, usually the rest of the team can pick up the slack or help talk you down off the ledge, or, you know, all of those things, right. Because the biggest thing that I hear, and the biggest thing that I experience is just how lonely this journey is. Because the thing that you realize at so many points, and, and again, between, you know, I have an idea now, what do I do? And you actually have traction and you’re actually starting to prove the viability of what you’re doing is really the, the largest piece of this. Because once you have traction, all of a sudden people want to give you money and they want to put people on your board of directors who have experience or who have wisdom, or who have knowledge, or, you know, who can help you, right. And you could afford to hire people to do the things that you’re not sure about, or, or that, you know, aren’t in your wheelhouse or that, you know, you need to pay more attention to, you know. It’s the building proof outside of what you know in your heart and what you know in your gut and what you can see in the vision and the execution of that that’s the really lonely part. And, you know, it’s, it’s been a really interesting exploration for me because, you know, I run multiple businesses. Really I have been ramping down the business development in my consulting company, Raika Technologies, because I have been ramping up my focus to put more time and more energy into Precursa to get us over that first finish line, to launch and to building that traction, right. And so I’ve been ramping down the business development in my primary day-to-day operational company. And that is terrifying in itself because that’s an engine that takes a while to build up because working with me is a five-figure endeavor. You know, it’s 10 to $20,000 for entrepreneurs to work with me to, to go through this process that we’re building, you know, as MVP into Precursa, you know, for much cheaper than that, right. But it takes a lot of my time and a lot of my creative thinking and a lot of my strategic energy in order to do this work. And so that costs a lot of money. And so the sales cycle on that, getting the right kind of referrals, having the right kind of people coming to you, it takes time. And so slowing that down to focus on something else means that it impacts my income, but also it will eventually have an impact to the amount of money that I can keep putting into Precursa, because if I’m not making it anywhere, you know, I don’t have a ton of money sitting in the wings to put in myself, right. Other than the amount of money that I have in retirement, which probably isn’t even enough for my age to be fair, because here’s the thing about being an entrepreneur: it’s feast or famine. And I don’t mean that… This is unique from being a small business owner. This is unique from working for someone else as a W2 employee and, you know, climbing the corporate ladder or, you know, switching companies every few years and getting a raise or, you know, this is very unique, because in my career I will go much longer making far less than any of my peers working for other people. But when I win, the wins are enormous. I mean, so let, let me put it this way. When I sold my first company, I did not build a company with the intent to set out, to sell it. I built my first company. I started it, you know, at 15, 16 years old because I liked building websites. And I was not a great employee for the types of jobs that most people have at 15 or 16 years old. I actually got fired from being a barista at a coffee shop in a mall in Southern California. Well, actually it was a mutual deciding that I should go. Cause I walked in and said, I don’t think I’m any good at this, and I might quit. And she was like, oh, thank God, cause I thought I was going to have to fire you. So I love doing web programming and I, so I started building websites for small companies, particularly there was a couple people in my church who gave me some early work and, you know, I set out to make an income, right, to make some money and be a teenager and do all the things.

15:51

And very quickly, I got to a point where I had built that company. It was a consulting company, right? So there’s not huge margins in consulting because the money that comes in is usually mostly going back out minus maybe 10 to 20% of a margin. I have one company that I’ve worked for that they tried to build an a 35% profit margin, which helped them continue to grow the business. And I, and you know, that that would be great, but I think most consulting companies don’t operate on that kind of a profit margin. But the whole reason I was able to sell that company for a couple million dollars, it was just short of $2 million was because I landed a really lucrative, really high value, high profile contract, right. And so the companies that I beat out for that contract were the ones who came to me and said, what would it take for us to get that contract? We’ll buy your company. Well, you know, they made me some offers. And as a 19 year old, 20 year old kid, I was like, okay, let’s do it, right. Like $2 million. That’ll last me forever. Now to be fair, and part of the reason why that $2 million went so quickly is because I knew nothing about money and I knew nothing about big money, right. And to me, I come from, somebody said it this way, the other day. I used to say, I grew up very poor. Somebody said the other day I come from extremely humble beginnings. And I like that because it doesn’t, it creates a connotation of, yeah, we didn’t have money, but we, I had a mom who loved me and who would do anything for me. I think with all the dysfunction on with, you know, my dad’s side of the family and my relationships there, I do believe that my dad loved me and he did his best too. It wasn’t always enough, right. But that’s sort of the story of parenting sometimes. And it’s difficult one and I have a lot more sympathy and empathy for it now as a step-mom than I ever did when I was in my late teens and twenties and early thirties. I think I had a lot of disdain for my father and, you know, and I get a lot of it now. Not that it makes it okay. But anyway, the point being, I come from humble beginnings, so my family didn’t have money. I mean, we lived in a trailer in Western North Carolina. We moved a lot and I didn’t know, no one, no one taught me because I don’t think it was, it wasn’t, it wasn’t a concern in my family because you know, my parents didn’t have money. And so they weren’t thinking about teaching us what to do with money because they never had it. So they didn’t really know what to do with it, right. So when I sold my first company, I didn’t know anything, I didn’t know, to have a good attorney on my side. And I did not know to have a good CPA on my side, who could help me traverse the landscape of taxes, like that didn’t even occur to me. Right. I mean, I knew about income tax and all that kind of stuff, but this seemed like something different, right. And I had some people who were giving me advice and helping me through the process and whatever. I don’t think they were good people. And I think they took a lot more money than they should have for that work. And in the end, I didn’t set aside enough money for taxes. And I didn’t know that I needed to do that. And so by the time all of it, you know, kind of came to a head and I had to pay the rest of the tax bill, it was everything that was left. Now, what did I do with the rest of it in the meantime, obviously, because it wasn’t like, you know, I sold my company for 1.7 and the tax bill was 1.7, right. That’s not how that works. Because I didn’t know what to do with money. It felt like having that kind of money men, I was never going to have to worry about money again. And so, you know, it never occurred to me in my personal life until I hit my thirties and did this again, lost everything again, never occurred to me that the way that you manage a business by doing forecasting and budgeting and prioritizing of how you spend money and, and knowing exactly where your money’s going, it never occurred to me to do that in my personal life. It seemed very natural in business because like everybody talks about that and you learn it when you’re learning how to build a business and all that.

20:22

But nobody tells you that in your personal life. I mean, we do an incredibly poor job, particularly in America, but I don’t know how other countries experience this, but we do an incredibly poor job in America of teaching kids about personal finance and how important it is and how critical it is to your long-term success and your ability to save for your own future. So I just didn’t have any of these skills. And so seemed like I could spend a lot of money taking friends out for food and trips to Catalina for scuba diving and trips to Mexico, and you know, trips to see family and friends all over the country and not really worrying about working so much and you know, not working at all for probably a good six months. And because I’m someone who values, experiences over things, the really crazy part is that what I spend money on generally tends to leave me with great memories, great photos sometimes, I’m not really great at taking photos and videos all the time. I forget because I’m just in the moment, but it doesn’t leave me with anything to show for the money that I’ve spent, right. So it’s not even like I ended up with a big, huge house, you know, an asset or a bunch of TVs and cars and stuff that once I realized what I had done, I could at least sell it and recoup some of the money, right? No, I literally had a lot of really great experiences, had a lot of fun and then had nothing. So I’m telling you this because it illustrates what I’m talking about when I say feast or famine. At some point, I’m going to bring on one of my clients, William Loopesko, whose first startup venture was called PuppTech. And it was a company, lots of challenges and lots of really interesting, you know, things. And we actually did a full post-mortem with him on my, on my other podcast called Incubate This!. And it’s a really interesting episode. I highly recommend you go listen to it, and at some point I may have him on this show to talk a little bit about mindset and the entrepreneurial journey, because he can describe this in a way that’s really, really visceral because he just, he just went through it and just kind of came out the other side, the end of 2019 through like the middle of 2020, right. But he will tell you that feast or famine is absolutely the entrepreneurial journey when you’re building a startup because you’re clawing and you’re scraping and you’re getting creative and you’re bootstrapping, and you’re asking everyone in your life for money and then going back and doing it again, every time something changes, right? I mean, you are the one holding this vision and remaining optimistic and keeping that fire, right. You’re stoking the fire and you’re doing it alone until the point at which the switch flips and you’re no longer alone. And then at that point you might be making a bad salary for someone in your position, right? Like you might go from, I’m making nothing because that’s, what’s expected of me to now maybe I’m able to pay myself 60, 70, even a hundred thousand dollars a year, right. Which is for someone running a company, depending on the level of traction that you’re getting and the level of revenue in your company really may not be enough, but it’s really all you can do. And it’s really all you can, I’m putting it in quotes, get away with, for your investors to be cool with it, right. And so, so it’s just this very weird, very strange… And then all of a sudden you hit that stride where your revenue is right. Your traction is right. You’ve got the right kind of attention and you’re ready to sell. And somebody is going to write you a check for 20 million, 50 million, a hundred million. I mean, and in the case of like Bumble, where they wrote, I think, I think Whitney sold that company for a billion and a half, billion with a B, maybe it was even 2 billion. It’s escaping me right now, but she sold it for over a billion dollars. You know, now it took her seven or eight years to get there. And, you know, I’m working through channels to see if I can get someone like Whitney Wolfe Herd, or one of these sort of unicorn exiting entrepreneurs of recent times to come on and kind of talk to us about the early days of the journey, right. Because there’s very little support. They don’t talk about it. It’s not, it’s, it’s a very important journey. It’s a very important story, but it’s not newsworthy the way a huge win is because it doesn’t let you fantasize, like mostly this episode, isn’t going to be one where you’re going to go home and fantasize about the loneliness of building your startup, right? So there’s even a risk in me talking about this because there’s a chance that you hear sort of some of the truth about the journey, me being on the Precursa journey and that being the truth and the transparency and the honesty that we’ve committed to on this podcast and going, I don’t know that doesn’t sound like fun. Like I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to give up my prime earning years potentially to go build something that has a one in 10, actually the statistic we heard yesterday from my mentor was now, now most VC and PE firms are calling it a one in 12 or a one in 15 success.

25:59

You know, of the companies that they invest in. It seems like a really long shot for giving up so much. And that’s, that’s exactly what it is and it’s lonely. So like, for example, now I’m finally in a place because of the SaaS that I have that’s active in the commercial airline space, which at some point I’ll talk more about that because, you know, that’s sort of a different kind of entrepreneurial journey that, that got us to that place. And it’s an interesting story too, but you know, I have that, I do have my consulting company and there is some regular income that, you know, is, is pretty stable in that company. So I make a decent income. And in fact, I make too much for most of the average investing advice that you hear on most podcasts because I, um, um, make too much money to invest in a Roth IRA, right. I’m just, just above that level. And so most of the traditional advice that you hear, whether it’s Dave Ramsey or the Money Guy or the Smart Money podcast, like all these things they’re geared towards the average consumer who’s working a job and is generally in the income range where that advice is really good advice. You should be investing in Roth, right? I’m also a solopreneur small business owner, which means that I don’t have access to a corporate 401(k). So when you get to a place where you’re actually in this journey, there’s so little resources and so little support out in the world, which is why there’s masterminds all over the place and these incubators and accelerators all over the place. And people work so hard to get into them, even though they give up, you know, again, their earning potential and you can’t work while you’re doing it and all this stuff, because you just don’t want to be alone. Now, part of what we’re building with Precursa is a community element and giving you sort of this fluid community where, as you’re going along in the journey, and as you are progressing with, you know, your idea or your set of ideas or whatever you’re working on, or even your startup, that’s beyond the idea phase, right? Giving you access to a group and a community of people who are dealing with the same things that you are, who are having the same struggles and challenges and have the same questions. And also a group that can get sometimes the small wins are the wins and you have to celebrate them, right? So I’m saying all of this because I want you to understand, I’ve talked in the past about the fantasy of the overnight success and the fantasy of the unicorn, you know, and, and never having to make a dollar and being able, you know, never having to actually make money. I mean, you might earn revenue, but you’ve never made a profit. You know, you’ve always subsidized a portion of everything that you’ve done and then selling your company for, you know, billions of dollars. Like this is the story that you mostly hear because it’s the fun one. It’s like the lottery winner story, right. But that’s not the majority of the journey. That’s the last, you know, getting it over the finish line, the last 5%, the rest of it is a very different story. And I think it’s important to understand, and to start to come to terms with for yourself, because if your vision and your passion for the idea that you have isn’t enough to overcome the lonely, the downtimes, the struggles, the fear, the hits to your self-confidence, because all of those things are going to happen. And the question is, do you have enough belief, and do you have enough passion, and do you have enough intensity for what you are doing to get you through those times to have you build a support system around you, even if it’s just a couple of really key people. If you don’t have that intensity in that drive and that, that ambition, you may not have hit on the right idea, because it’s going to take that and then some. And so the mindset and the, the structures that you build around yourself and the way you push through the tough times, in how long you let yourself live in the tough times, are very important and all play into how successful you’re going to be, or whether you will be successful or not.

30:41

So I think it’s really important that we talk about this because I want you to go after this. If it is one of those things that burns in your soul in a way where if it doesn’t exist, you’re not sure what your purpose is in life, right? And I believe if you are, this is where my mindset comes in, right? You can, you can get a glimpse into sort of how I view the world. Even in, in this lowest time. And last night I didn’t sleep well. You know, I woke up at about 1:30 with that, just feeling of dread and worry and fear about all the, you know, and all the self-doubt and negative self-talk and all of that. And, you know, I just kinda, I just, I I’m one of those people that I don’t try and push those, those thoughts and feelings away, I try and actually feel them and experience them and move through them. Because I believe that that gets me there way faster than trying to pretend it doesn’t exist or, or whatever. But, you know, that meant that for about three and a half, four hours last night between 1:30 and about 4:30 hours, I was just laying there awake, you know, and so I’m tired today. So everything seems more monumental today. But one of the things that I was thinking about as I was sort of moving through that is how, you know, most of our friends have no clue what I’m doing. Not because I don’t talk about it and I’m not telling them what I’m doing, but because they don’t understand, they’ve never been there. They’ve never done it. And even more so the women in my life, you know, the, the female friends that I have very, very few who actually have been on a journey, like what I’m going on with raising money and building startups and trying to build that thing that I can sell that is that return and that win, that makes the sacrifice and the, and the famine part worth it, right? And that, again, adds to the loneliness. We have a group of people that we go to dinner with every Friday night. And these are some of my favorite people on the planet. Not one of them has ever done what I’m doing. And all of the women in the group are married to wealthy men. And, you know, some of them have worked at some point in their lives, but not like this. So while they try to be supportive, they just don’t understand. And so it’s difficult to be in a space like the one that I’m in today, where I’m pressed up against very viscerally in a very real way right now, just the fear and the shake of the confidence and all of that. And I know I’ll move through it. And by the end of the weekend, I’ll, you know, I mean, I’m, I’m going to do the things that there are to do today, and I’m going to do them with gusto and I’m going to do them the only way I know to do anything, which is with my full heart and soul. Just understand that this is kind of the context it’s behind that today. And, you know, in a little bit of yesterday and probably for the next couple of days, but I’ll go to dinner and listen to conversations, and, and I won’t really be all that interested. And it’s not because I don’t love these people and it’s not because they aren’t very, very dear friends of ours. It’s because I am in a place that none of them can relate to. So it’s not an opportunity for me to get support and get help. And so I’m pointing to that because even these Fridays that I look forward to with our friends and a dinner out with, you know, just a group of people that we love being with feels different and feels lonely when you’re up against it. So when I say mindset, anytime I say mindset matters, this journey is not for the faint of heart. This journey is not for the casual observer. Part of the reason why it’s so important that we build Precursa in the way that we’re trying to build it, you know, with the vision that we have is to help you understand before you spend time and money. And before you make these huge sacrifices, is your idea really something that’s worth it. Is your idea, really something that you can get behind. And however, the journey goes, whether you win or lose, succeed or fail, sell or not, whatever it is, are you going to be glad you did it at the end? And that really is what I mean when I say this isn’t for the faint of heart, it’s not for everyone. And it’s not a casual thing. It is in a lot of ways, all or nothing. You know, one of the things I think really got to me yesterday in our conversation with my mentor was, you know, we asked him a bunch of questions about what is your experience of what investors are expecting right now.

35:30

And he said, you know, they’re looking for, what are you putting in from a money standpoint. And Paige asked, well, how about sweat equity? How much does that, how much does that count for? And he said, they don’t care about that. They expect that; you’re going to do that anyway. So they want to know, what are you investing? You know, how much have you put into your idea, which is why the friends and family raise early on is really so critical. I’m going to talk maybe even next week, but maybe, you know, sometime in the next few episodes, we’ll talk about like, what does it mean when they say friends and family, you know, versus VC. We’ll talk about the different kinds of investment, especially early on, you know, what’s an angel versus friends and family versus VC, et cetera, et cetera. But that’s why the– and, and he even said that he, I said, so we know we’re, we’re targeting this launch in, in September. And we know by the end of the year, if we can launch September within that three months, we will be cashflow positive. What are our best strategies between here and there to get this money without giving away all of our company? Because there are people who are like, yeah, I’d give you a million dollars for 85% of it. I’m just not willing to do that, you know, that doesn’t make any sense. And he said, friends and family and put your own money in, you know? And so I think realizing that even with the level of commitment I have and the level of input that I’m doing and, and all of the work and all of the, the, even all the money that we’re putting in to just keep ourselves going, may not be enough in some people’s eyes, you know? And, and so as we go here and definitely in Precursa, we do a lot of talking about mindset. And so I wanted to give you some context. I wanted you to understand what does that really mean? And again, I wanted to be transparent about the things that I’m dealing with as the founder, the ups and downs, the challenges, the, the wins, all of that, that we’re doing in Precursa. And the thing that keeps me going is we’re not done. I’m not even close to done. If it means that I have to back off of all these activities, because I run out of my own money. We have to back off of, of the advertising spend. And we have to back off of being able to pay our developers for a little while, and we have to push out our launch and we have to get creative and find other ways to bring in money. Even if that means building a pre-MVP that is on somebody else’s platform, that doesn’t deliver on a lot of the pieces, but it, it gets people the information, and it gets me and them together in a way that gives them value so that we can bring in money and start bringing in revenue into Precursa, then we’ll do that. Like, there are lots of options. There are still a lot of, a lot of avenues available to us. Paige and Sarah feel very confident based on some of the conversations we’ve had over the last two weeks that we’ve known we needed to go back to the, you know, the fundraising table. Putting the fun back in fundraising, but they feel pretty confident that we can raise some friends and family money, probably, you know, half a million dollars that will get us to launch and even quite a bit beyond at that point. And then at some point, this other debt financing option will become available again. And maybe we get to take less money because we just don’t need as much, or maybe you don’t need any of it. I mean, who knows, but we have options. And the point is Paige and Sarah are being my support as I go through the emotional ride that I’m on, you know, that’ll last, like I said, a couple of days and there’s work to be done. And I know how to put myself into it with the passion that I will never regret having spent my time, my energy, my money going after Precursa, because this has to exist. Even if the end of the journey is that I got beat out by a better competitor. And, you know, my, my business made some money and it was a fun ride and, and, you know, whatever, and it didn’t sell or didn’t sell for as much as, as you know, the, the investors we’ve talked to think it will or whatever. That is a worthy journey, because I want to end the story of the entrepreneur who spends hundreds of thousands of dollars and years of their life on a company and on an idea that was never going to be viable, but they didn’t know that. And they didn’t know how to find that out.

40:05

I want that to never be someone’s story again, that it never has to be someone’s story again, because I have paved the way, or I have pushed other companies to innovate, you know, just by my being in the market, right. And so it is worthy to me. Now, does it still leave me with fear about my own retirement, my own future? Of course it does. It’s feast or famine. So there’s, there’s that too. But again, if I didn’t believe this was a part of a purpose, if I couldn’t look back and see how everything I’ve done and every step I’ve taken and every win and every loss in my personal life and in my professional life leading up till now has been leading to this moment and leading to this thing existing, then it wouldn’t be enough for me. But I have this sense in, in my soul and in my heart and, and deep down because of what I can see and because of how I perceive the past and how I’ve gotten to where I am, that this is the right journey and I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. And I believe in higher power, I believe in God, I believe in the reality of purpose. And I think that that makes a difference. And so what I have to do is be responsible for the pieces that belong to me, which are continuing the journey and continuing to execute and doing the things that are in front of me to do, even if they seem like small steps and hand the rest over to the universe, to God, who is much better at making any of this happen than I am, as long as I’m walking the path and I’m doing what there is to do in front of me right now and right now, and right now, and right now, no matter how small those baby steps are. So I encourage you as we’re going through this journey together. And as you get into the Precursa platform, when it is available, mindset is really important. Do that work, go on those journeys with us, ask those questions, dive in and be willing to explore. I think a couple of episodes ago, I called it the hairy guts of yourself, the, the juicy, emotional, visceral feelings and waves that come over you as you are going through, you know, validating your idea, and really be honest with yourself about the stomach that you have and the heart that you have for a journey like this, because it’s really, really important. And if you determine that a particular idea doesn’t have that gravitas for you, consider that there may be something else that does. If you are called to be an entrepreneur or to start a startup, or to solve a problem in the world, that is not a small thing. So don’t give up on it too easily either. Be willing to nose around in there and see, is there something that I can grab onto that has that energy and that gravity to pull me forward in the way that it’s going to take for me to get to the place that I want to get to, and to have that journey and to have that ride, because I’ll tell you, yes, it’s, it’s a challenge and yes, it is not for the faint of heart, but my God, you guys, it is so much fun and it is so worth it. I mean, it’s just, there’s nothing, there’s nothing like it. Uh, I just got choked up when I said that. So as much as I’m trying to give you the insight into the very intense, like the most intense rollercoaster, you can think of double that, right? Like that’s really the ride, but it is, it is one hell of a ride. So mindset matters. And, and that’s why I want to leave you with today. This has been extremely cathartic for me. And I hope that you have gotten a depth of understanding and that it is causing you to think and to question, and to dig for yourself in a way that is satisfying and fulfilling, that it leads you to a new place or a new understanding of yourself and of your idea and, uh, of, of what you really want and how to get there. So as always happy entrepreneuring. Make sure you subscribe to us on your favorite podcast platform. If there’s a platform we’re not on that you typically use, that you would love to see us on, please reach out to me, let me know. You can reach us at startup@precursa.com or tag me in a, in a post on our social media. You know, we’re on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn. You can find us everywhere, tag me in a post or something. And let me know, and I will make sure that we get this added to your favorite platforms. Cause I want you to be getting every episode every week because this is, it’s a really fun and it’s a, it’s a, it’s one hell of a ride. And I want you to be on it with us. The ups and the downs are super juicy. All right. So happy entrepreneuring. And I will see you guys next time.

Thank you for listening to this episode of Precursa: The Startup Journey. If you have an idea for a startup and you want to explore the proven process of turning your idea into a viable business, check us out at precursa.com. Make sure to subscribe to this podcast wherever you listen to podcasts, so you never miss an episode. Until next time…

Cynthia Del'Aria

Cynthia Del'Aria is a serial entrepreneur and tech startup ninja, specializing in product-market fit and idea validation and helping new entrepreneurs reserve their time and money for the idea with the best shot at success. With two successful exits before 30, an active high-profit-margin SaaS in the commercial airline space, and two additional startups in the works, she knows what it takes to traverse the entrepreneur journey, the highs, and the challenges of turning a vision into a successful, viable business.

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Copyright © 2021 Precursa  |  All Rights Reserved  |  Site Created by Natalie Jark

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  • Denver, Colorado

  • startup@precursa.com

Copyright © 2021 Precursa  |  All Rights Reserved  |  Site Created by Natalie Jark

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