Boy am I glad I have separated the corporate blog from my personal blog. I have written now a very sensible and official post on the corporate blog about our funding round, which took me a very long time to write, as I kept wanting to burst into admissions of honesty.
However, I restrained myself, but now am ready to pop. Here is where I can say what I really feel.
After 13 months of easily the hardest, most stressful, challenging, exhausting, demoralising, desperate time of my life, I am finally out of the tunnel and the light is strong. I don’t want to jinx myself, and I am not unrealistic about the challenges ahead, so I don’t want to wax too lyrical about how easy life is now. But, I would be lying if I said a mammoth gargantuan weight hadn’t been lifted from me. I feel lighter, younger, bouncier, and so much happier.
I used to describe my life as a mash-up between Groundhog Day and The Dragon’s Den : one never-ending series of pitches where I was politely rejected. There are a lot of similarities between pitching and dating: you don’t get it if you are looking for it, and they can sense the desperation. And I can attest to the truth in that.
Anyway, here are some of the learnings I have gleaned from this process:
- It takes a lot longer than you plan – months and months and months. And apparently this was a quick funding deal. !!!
- Read your term sheet very well, and get a lawyer involved early. I didn’t, and suffered a bit for it.
- Stand up for things that are critical – in my negotiations, there were a few points that I was adamant about. I learned how to negotiate and be firm on the areas that were key for me, my team, and my current investors.
- Find balance – I was lucky to have incredible non-tech non-startup friends and a boyfriend who soothed the woes from me on the weekends, allowing me to do 15 hour days mid-week. I needed that balance. My family too, although in Australia, were incredibly supportive and full of love.
- There is always a way that will work – this has actually been a motto in my life… I remember once I bought a large two piece sofa before I saw the flat I was moving into. When it arrived, my boyfriend and I worked for hours trying to find a layout that would work, and we just couldn’t. But I innately felt a solution would appear, and after a few more heavings and pushes, we found it, and it was perfect. This lesson applies to so much of my life: you gotta shove and push and think and take breaks and take advice and shove a bit more, but there is a combination out there that works if you push hard enough.
My favourite quote is from my lead investor’s blog about this deal – he sums it up really well (perhaps better than he realises):
Skimbit is led by tenacious Australian entrepreneur Alicia Navarro who kept her company and vision alive by sheer force of will through a long search for the right business model and then for financing.
Yep, it sure was a sheer force of will. But I’m here now, relieved, thankful, energised and thrilled. My dream continues… to be honest, it kinda has already happened. Yes, I want riches and wealth, but really what drives me isn’t money, its proving I can do it. And in this climate, as an Aussie female with a Spanish name in London in the midst of a financial crisis, to get enough really smart and amazing VCs and Angels to fund my tech startup because they believe in me… and to have my father say he is proud of me… well, what more do I need to do, really? Oh yes, become a millionaire, but its that sense of inner glee and pride that I yearned for, and now, have.
The road still stretches out before me, but I tread it now confidently, and with a brave heart.