Startup Lessons Learned from my Recent Wedding
As many of you know, I spent the last two weeks getting married. Yes, it did indeed take two weeks, including a wedding on April 24th in the Bay Area, as well as a reception in my home town in Rochester, NY on May 1st. Beyond the actual wedding festivities, there were months of planning and preparations prior to the events. Now that all of this has culminated, I thought I would take a moment to reflect on the lessons learned relevant to the startup community from my recent wedding experience.
Enjoy the journey, not just the final event
It's pretty obvious that the time involved in planning and preparing for a wedding completely outnumber the hours of the actual wedding festivities. It's therefore extremely important to find ways to enjoy the actual planning in order to ensure the entire experience is worthwhile. For me, I took extra pleasure in the cake tasting, wine tasting, and wedding favor preparations. Similarly for startups, some people find that their main motivation is the potential final exit opportunity. But like weddings, startups are an arduous process that takes immense time, energy, and motivation, and you have to enjoy the journey itself, and not just the final exit, in order for a startup to really be a worthwhile endeavor.
Pursue your passions and you'll have the greatest success
The interesting part for me in vendor selection for our wedding was that many of the vendors we selected were entrepreneurs in their own right. The ones that struck me as the most successful were the ones that were truly pursuing their own passions. Jason Shires, for example, has always been deeply passionate about music and being a DJ. And he has built a wonderful wedding DJ business, Quantum Music, out of this passion. It shows in his energy and dedication to the client that he isn't just doing this for the pay off. He's doing it because he loves making a party rock. Same for Enez Peoro, who fell in love with cake making over 30 years ago when she took her first class. Since then she has been teaching cake making as well as making extraordinary wedding cakes through her business Cakeabakin. She takes extreme pride in her designs and it shows in her work. I think sometimes when entrepreneurs are looking at pursuing a business idea, they don't put enough weight on pursuing their own passions. I encourage everyone to do so, since you are likely to have more success in a space you are passionate about rather than simply pursuing a great market opportunity.
Confront your biggest fears early
Every wedding involves planning a ton of things that are unpleasant or downright dreaded. For some it's putting together the guest list, figuring out how to pay for the wedding, or deciding the seating chart. For me it was learning to dance for our first dance. The best advice I can give you is to confront these fears early. Similarly in your startup you'll come across many fears for which you dread the answer, whether it's will anyone will use your product, will you be able to generate revenue from your product, or can you cheaply acquire users. One should address these fears as soon as possible as the fear will continue to eat at you until you confront it and learn how best to solve it.
I also wanted to take a moment to thank those of you from the startup community who helped celebrate this special day with Ada and I, including Jameson Hsu, Andrew Chen, Anson Tsai, Noah Kagan, Jared Kim, and many others. I would especially like to thank Gus Tai for being our wonderful officiant for the ceremony.
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May 05, 2010