Recently we launched our new iOS app, Mind Hero, after almost a year of work. The formidable yet unforgettable process of building a startup seemed strangely similar to another major life experience. The birth of a first child.
I’m not a woman. I don’t have kids of my own, and I have little first-hand experience with pregnancy and children in general. But many mothers and fathers were involved in the process of building our startup, and when I suggested this idea to them, they agreed with my observation (and laughed wistfully).
So I decided to break down the process of building a startup and compare it in more detail, to see if my theory holds.
Like all good things in life, the creation of a startup begins with love. I fell in love with natural guided relaxations almost 15 years ago, and I have been practising with them on a daily basis ever since. Honestly, I can’t even imagine a life without them. True love indeed.
With love and passion, everything else comes naturally. The ideas start to flow constantly, and before long you become ready to create something new.
SEX & CONCEPTION
Although sex can last quite long, procreation cannot happen without the brief but powerful male orgasm. It is that moment of intensity, like nothing before it, that sets the stage for what happens next. I experienced a similarly intense “mental orgasm” when I came up with the idea for Mind Hero. I knew I’d set into motion something unstoppable. And soon thereafter came the moment of conception.
Biologically, conception happens when the sperm meets the egg. Science has shown that there is a bright flash of light at that moment. Life begins with a fireworks display.
When I conceived the idea for building our startup, it felt like lightning had struck me. I could suddenly see the whole picture very clearly – what type of relaxations we should feature, what background sounds we should use, and even what the UI should look like. It was all there, in my head. The baby had been conceived.
Soon, it came time to bring the idea to the development phase. Building up the concept, drawing first sketches, working on UI, hiring designers, programmers, copywriters… I have to say, with all the delays, it took almost exactly nine months to get it done. Sometimes the process felt unclear and sluggish, but most of the time we were inspired by what we were creating. We knew we had to go through this pregnancy phase courageously and with a clear goal, knowing that there was a bright light at the end of the tunnel.
The last few weeks were the worst. Although 99% of the app had been finalised, there were still so many little details and bugs which needed to be ironed out.
And then it went to the delivery room – it headed to the App Store for review.
If you’ve ever launched an app yourself, you’ll know the review process is a nightmare. Our app got refused four times because of minor details. Although they should have been easy to attend to, the Apple staff was extremely unhelpful. At moments we felt like we were communicating with poorly programmed AI. But finally, after ten days of screaming and shouting, the app was approved, the baby was born!
Our joy was endless; it felt incredible to have it finally out there, to inspire as many people as possible. After a year spent building a startup, our entire team felt like proud parents.
It’s a sobering fact of life that many mothers sink into a depression after delivering their baby. One of the main reasons for this is that, while the hormones increase during pregnancy, they drop quickly thereafter. When building a startup, your adrenaline rises. You’re excited to see your app come into the world and succeed. And then the launch happens and you’re left unsure of your purpose. You have to wait for people to download it, experience its brilliance, and begin to garner reviews.
I suffered from depression for days after Mind Hero went live in the App Store, and it seems it’s a common reaction among entrepreneurs. Suddenly, everything I’d been working on was out there, and I no longer had to slave over it. While there was a sense of relief, there was also a kind of loss of purpose.
Furthermore, I began to have so many doubts. I started to focus on our competition – their apps suddenly looked better, more polished, than ours. I began to think that our baby was not good enough.
NURTURING (PART 2 OF BUILDING A STARTUP)
It took me few days to work my way out of it, by realising we’ve only just released the first version and done a pretty awesome job of it. There is still a lot of work ahead that will make our already great app even better. Comparing our app with others to see if any are “better” or “worse” is useless and self-destructive. Our baby is here, it’s what we envisioned, and it’s unique. Now we have to take care of it. Building a startup is a continuous process. Now that it’s been born, our baby is vulnerable, unknown, and it needs nurturing. I soon remembered how in love with it I was, but now the feeling was different. This time I fell in love with everything it is and might still be, with something tangible that no longer existed only in my mind.
We are in the very early stages. There is a long road ahead of us, and this baby will need a lot of guidance. The possibilities are endless, our list of new features is long, and we can’t wait to implement them.
It is hard to say which way it will go, but I will make sure to come back to this post and bring updates, to assess how it passes through the kindergarten and primary school phase.
I have to go – our baby is crying!
Also published on Medium.