I take a deep breath and try to swallow the fact that I’m sitting here with a red pencil and a bunch of excel print outs that I must quality check. For those of you who don’t know, “quality check” means that I must go through all the formulas that excel has created and make sure that they’re all correct. And I have to do this by hand! My co-worker comes in and says that we’re all going to happy hour later tonight. Great, another couple of hours spent drinking and eating my life away so that I can hopefully get a 15% pay-raise once promotion season comes.
I’m standing in line. In a way, we’re all standing in line. I mindlessly follow the person in front of me and go to wherever this path takes me. As long as I keep up with the person in front of me and don’t slow down the people behind me, I can stay on my path without a problem. A mundane existence requires little brain power.
A Roller Coaster Beckons
Like a tower in the sky, the startup life elevates over me, beckoning me to come and ride it. Few people in line seem to notice it; those who do turn away in fear and remain in line. I can see those riding the Startup Life going through vigorous ups and downs. Those who are weak fall off, only to get back in the line.
Fear and uncertainty grip my heart. What happens if I step out of the line? Will I be able to keep my place and come back where I left? The choice is now or never. Waiting any longer in line could potentially brainwash me to the point where I’m comfortable with my meager existence. Slowly, I take a step off the line.
I wait. No one seems to notice. I feel free, liberated, and adventure awaits me.
The First Plunge is Always the Hardest One
Slowly I make my way to the entrance of the startup life. I spend the first few weeks looking for like-minded people who want to ride the startup life with me. 2 people join me, Yu-kai and Jason, and we step into our cart.
My heart starts beating faster and faster as the bars close down on our legs and we commit ourselves to the startup life. I look over to Yu-kai and his bar is closed tightly around his legs; Jason’s is not. His is loose, and I feel that already he is going to bring this ride to a stop.
Click… click… click… we go up the startup life. The beginning of this ride is steep. We can’t seem to get up to the peak with the single cart that we’re riding. Slowly, we slide back to the bottom to see if we can add carts to our starup life and build a stronger team that will enable us to get to the peak of our ride. We recruit 4 other carts: 1 cart of 5 developers and 3 carts full of marketing interns. Delighted and full of energy, we hop back onto the startup life, ready to reach that peak.
Click… click… click… we go up the startup life. As we reach each milestone, we pick up energy and move up faster and faster. I take a look back to see our team. 2 developers have already fallen off and 1 marketing-intern cart lost its grip and plummeted to oblivion. No worries though, the former team members are safe. They easily rejoin the line as if nothing had happened. I take a look to my left and Jason is now gripping his safety bar with all his might. Mine and Yu-kai’s bar is holding us fastly to our cart. I wonder if Jason will survive the imminent plunge that is coming up.
I see it. FD Career is about to be completed and we’re about to launch The peak of the coaster is only a few feet away. Hold on guys, we can do this; if we survive this plunge, we’ll come out victorious and successful. Closer and closer the peak is coming. Inexperienced, I grab onto my bar as well, close my eyes, and scream…
A Traumatic Loss
It was my first launch. I throw up on myself because I had never experienced such a vigorous yet exciting trauma to my body and mind. I look behind me – there is only one cart left behind us. In it our 2 developers (Steph and JJ) and 1 marketing intern (Joe). I look to my left – Jason has fallen off. His bar was never fastened tightly; there was no way he could have survived the plunge. Yu-kai is the only one who is still full of energy and wearing a smile on his big panda face.
Is the ride over? Did we make it? Have we succeeded?
We all look ahead only to see that this was only the beginning. The Startup Life doesn’t have just one big drop. I look ahead and I don’t see an end to this ride. The next big plunge is far away and concealed in mist so that I have no idea how big the drop is or if it will be the last one.
Looking ahead at the uncertainty and turmoil, Steph steps off the ride. We hug and embrace him for joining us this far, but his place right now is in line with everyone else. The trauma of the first launch was a lot for him to handle, and understandably so. I threw up on myself for goodness sake! We are now 4: Yu-kai, JJ, Joe, and myself. Two carts, four people. Do we even have the strength to make it up the next launch by ourselves?
Stronger and More Resilient Than Ever
Something has changed. No longer is our cart a dainty little virgin. Our wheels have become more solid, our safety bars have become thicker, and our cart has gained in size and even added a little engine to keep the momentum going. Not only is our cart stronger and more stable now after the first plunge, but we now see a lot of other carts riding parallel to ours. I see the faces of other entrepreneurs who survived their first plunge and how they’re trucking along just as strong as we are. It’s a truly encouraging site and it only fuels my drive to keep pushing harder and harder.
Here it comes again. The launch of death. This time, the ride up to the peak seems a little shorter.
Click… click… click… We go up towards the peak and I can feel that 2 carts fueled by 4 people are more than enough to get us to the peak. Milestone after milestone, we compel the cart to move upwards and release an Alpha of Viralogy. We’re still not at the peak yet, but we are sure gaining momentum and getting to the peak fast.
To my dismay, JJ’s bar has become unlatched! No… you’re our only developer left. If you leave, how will we ever make it to the peak and launch?
It was JJ’s time. His heart is still with us but his body must now go back to the line. We hug and embrace, and watch as he goes back to the line, joining Steph and Jason.
And then there were three.
The Second Plunge Awaits Us
Our cart now inches closer and closer to the launch of Viralogy. Though our momentum has slowed and the speed that we’re approaching the peak is now the pace of a snail, our cart is still fueled by the desire that burns within our hearts. Joe detaches his cart to lose some weight and hops in next to Yu-kai and I. The three amigos; the three muskateers. There’s just something magical about the number 3.
I see it now. Launch is nothing but a short month away. Will our safety bars hold the three of us safely in our cart? How big is the plunge? I’m not sure about what’s in store for us ahead of the mist, but what I do know is that this time I will NOT grip the safety bar and close my eyes like a scared little girl. My arms will go up to the sky and my eyes will be wide open. I will be ready to grab onto Joe or Yu-kai’s hand if they happen to slip off of the cart because there is no way that I will let them plummet to their spiritual deaths.
I can do this. We can do this. No matter how many plunges await us, our cart will only get stronger and stronger and the team will only become more experienced.
1 cart. 3 people.
Will we survive the launch? There’s no doubt in my mind that we will
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