It seems ironic that this year, since starting a podcast on optimism, I’ve been challenged on that front like never before.
A couple of weeks ago I decided to ride my bike into the city from my house. I’d been working my way towards this task for months and really wanted to lose some weight, gain fitness, and challenge myself. When I set out that afternoon, I had no idea what was about to unfold.
I managed the hard part really well, and only had to get off my bike and push it up a hill once. The rest of that ride was pretty easy and then when I got past the really hilly parts I was ecstatic! I had finally done it.
But then, as I was riding along a very straight and very easy road, I tried to ride up onto the sidewalk but instead, my wheel was caught in the gutter, my bike spun around and threw me off onto the Pavement. I knew as soon as I had landed that something was broken.
Shattered Wrist and Plans
It wasn’t long before passers-by stopped and called an ambulance. Once in the hospital, they undislocated my wrist and put a cast on it then sent me home the next day. I had to go back in a few days later to have surgery on my shattered wrist.
Here is what makes this story a little more intense. Over the past four weeks, I’d been preparing for my next seed round. There’s a lot of work that goes into this process. You have to refine your pitch, you have to update your financial projections and you have to have a top-notch investor summary ready to send to prospective investors. In fact, the day of the accident I was on my way to a meeting with my Blue Chilli advisor to discuss all of this.
On top of all of this, the very next day I was meant to go to Sydney for the Walkleys Innovation Grant Shortlisted Projects Workshop (28 of the 100 longlisted projects). I ended up having to record my pitch while under the influence of a cocktail of prescription drugs. Not ideal, and it took me a few hours to pull it together in some coherent way, but I’m hoping and praying it was good enough to make the cut. I’m really grateful to the Walkleys’ staff for allowing me to record my pitch.
You might think that everything came to a grinding halt after the accident. You might also think that I spent days resting and recovering after my surgery. Well, maybe a normal person might have done that.
Then Add a Mad Dash on Product Hunt
The thing is, the night before my surgery I was lying in bed when I caught a tweet telling me to jump onto Product Hunt because Writally had just been featured. Being featured on Product Hunt is a big deal. It’s a site that can make or break your app. I wasn’t about to let the latter happen. I quickly jumped on and realised that we were likely to be hit with a lot of new blog post recipe requests, so I messaged my intern, Katie, and she confirmed that we had about 60 requests already waiting in the queue.
It’s not obvious to users, at first, that recipes are manually fulfilled. Our goal is to automate in the next development stage, however right now, we manually tweak the recipes and put them in customer dashboards. The only problem was, I was about to go into surgery and I knew that we wouldn’t be able to make our turnaround times.
A Little Lateral Thinking
At times like this you could just give up, throw in the towel or dissolve into tears, but when you have a startup, you do whatever it takes to succeed and there was no way I was going to let a broken wrist get in the way.
So as soon as I was out of surgery I created a new email sequence in my signup follow-up campaign to notify new and recent users of the possible delays and then set about filling recipe requests. Crazy huh?
It took a few days to catch up on the backlog, but with the help of my fabulous intern, we somehow did it. In the end, thanks to Product Hunt, we had over 200 new requests to fulfill in 3 days.
Resilience: the Secret Ingredient to Startup Success
I’m not going to lie, I have found the past 2 weeks to be really difficult. Not only am I down to one arm But the drugs they’ve given me for the pain make me feel like I’m asleep at the wheel. In addition, the nerve pain I’ve experienced has been pretty unbearable at times and after 6 years with very long hair, I had to cut it (Not the end of the world, I realize, but still…). However, I keep breathing and praying that all of this will pass, and just get on with it.
Added to all of this, of course, I still have to look after my kids. Luckily my kids are pretty good at looking after themselves and not bad at looking after me. My sister flew up from Adelaide to help out too!
On the plus side, Writally hit 650 users at the end of May and we had created over 1000 unique blog post recipes.
Being a startup founder can be trying at times, especially when things don’t go to plan. However, you can and must stick with it, because at the end of the day your success is determined by your resilience, and there are people out there who need what you’re creating. So while this year has tested my sense of optimism, it hasn’t broken it.
What crazy things have you had to do in order to overcome obstacles on your business journey?