It seems only yesterday that I was sitting in an empty office at the Bath Innovation Centre having just left an amazing role, a talented team and great stock options and benefits at Microsoft to satisfy my burning desire to create a startup. I felt that if I didn’t do it then I would always look back and regret it; I had to jump off that cliff and see if my co-founders and I could fly on our own.
We did… just! But we failed time after time, learning (sometimes!) along the way, and eventually realised, having developed a self-publishing startup, that we didn’t really want to run the business we’d just created. On reflection, we enjoyed the creative process, pushing our unique design and development skills to the limit, and realised that was our true passion. That was our time to “pivot” – to invest in and help other startups, scale-ups, and corporates launch and grow their businesses.
These days, running Rocketmakers, I get to work with entrepreneurs who have that same passion, desire and need to improve the world that I also felt a decade ago. I get to help them create and accelerate amazing businesses and to, hopefully, avoid some of the mistakes we’ve made.
One thing I’ve noticed over that decade is that we Brit founders are not great at “failure” when compared with our friends in the US. I took eight local startups over to San Francisco for a week some years ago, and saw their dumbfounded faces when a founder there said he was “proud to have raised $70M and never given a cent back to shareholders” – he felt all the “failure” was just a learning curve to the bigger rewards to come. I wish we gave more credence to this view in the UK (although perhaps not $70M!), seeing the sacrifices founders make as worthy of our respect and offering support for their next venture, rather than seeing them as having failed in something and often encouraging them to “go back to the day job” having “at least had a go”.
If you’ve got that burning desire, you’re in the right place in Bristol or Bath! Start now if you can afford to and give us a call if we can help, expect to fail often and learn from it, and just keep pivoting, ducking, diving and going until you get there – and never go back to the day job!