Chapter 27: You can even get injured building a startup!


Demos Demetriou

Chapter 27: You can even get injured building a startup!

Weightlifting vs Startups

Building a startup reminds me a lot of weightlifting. Bear with me, this isn’t just a stupid correlation between something totally random or a sign of madness…..for now at least! When you lift weights in the gym the progress is incremental after the initial surge and it then takes time to make progress. Some days you are stronger than other days and unfortunately sometimes you can get injured. You can also take steroids and a cocktail of protein shakes to accelerate muscle growth but that comes at a cost.

See the similarities? In a startup your progress can be incremental after that initial interest, some days are better than others and if you want to accelerate growth you need some investment and some protein shakes in the form of some advisors. Unfortunately, you can also get injured. We had a minor injury this week, but we didn’t even get to taste the protein shakes!

We were introduced some months ago to someone who claimed they could help in the form of a large network of connections some of whom could invest. After four months of discussions we have walked away from the deal. Whaaattttt! I hear you say? That is the holy grail in startup land! Get someone on-board who can speed up the process, right? Yeah, yeah…. but it has to be done right.

Deal Breaker

Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite right. There was one thing that was a deal breaker for us. Moving the goalposts within the terms on the contract, that had never previously been discussed all. This was all done at the last minute and to their advantage. Now as my Dad commented on a post some time ago his analogy at the time was “wanting to eat the cake before it was even baked” and he couldn’t have been closer to the truth.

I’m a stickler for loyalty and morals in business. Sure, I’ve made some mistakes in the past, but they have only reinforced how important these qualities are in business and that you have to stick to them. I believe that if you agree on something with someone you should follow through to the end, wherever the end may be. I know I’m probably a minority and it is a cutthroat business world out there that doesn’t care for that kind of thing, but I am not changing anytime soon and I’m happy with that.

Over the last 18 months we have come across quite a few advisors, consultants, connectors, middlemen, you name it. Most have over-promised and under-delivered while trying to sweet talk us so that they can get their share of the cake. Now don’t get me wrong, I really believe in rewards and once again as my Dad would say “a small bit of a tasty cake is better than all of a cake that has no taste at all”. I believe in rewarding people as it is one of the ways you can show appreciation to that person for their efforts, BUT you can’t have a piece of the cake that hasn’t even been baked yet. You just can’t. It would be like me drawing a £250k salary before I even did anything. It’s wrong and the company would sink like a lead balloon for my own short-term gain.

Consultants Prey

I’m not sure if startups are these consultants’ targets but as I have said before things need to change, we have a plan and we will get onto that once we have succeeded in what we are trying to solve in the recruitment industry. I have no doubt there are lots of startups out there who do not see the light of day because they get the wrong people involved through no fault of their own. Often, they are desperate and just want that lucky break and they think that these advisors can help. We’re lucky to be where we are but there are others who are not so lucky, and their injuries have been terminal to their startups. It’s such a shame and yet the consultants and advisors move onto the next company.

Much the same as the minor injury you would get in the gym, you take a bit of time out and then get back to it and get stronger. This will be the same for us, we learnt a lot during this last few months. Our team is stronger than ever, and we will be pushing harder than ever to continue on this journey.

All of the recent conversations we have had with hotels and restaurants prove that the way that businesses in the hospitality industry find staff needs to improve to get job seekers quicker and more cost effectively than ever before and that is what we are fixing. We know we need more help, but only from people who are prepared for that cake to bake, and actually help in making the cake along the way not just turn up as it comes out of the oven. Believe me, when it does it will be the tastiest of cakes and everyone involved will enjoy it!

Until next time…