Reflections on starting a startup

…insanely dangerous and wonderfully exciting…

Surprisingly enough, even though we are located in the heart of Silicon Valley, we only know a handful of personal friends who have actually taken the plunge and started a company of their own. I suppose we are surrounded by a lot of people who think it’s cool and dream of starting a company one day, but never really take the plunge.

So, what is it like to start a company with passion for a great idea, a few friends, very little money, and with children to support in one of the most expensive cities in the world? In a strange sort of way, it feels insanely dangerous and wonderfully exciting all at the same time. Life certainly isn’t bland. Some days, I wake up feeling like a drowning ant caught in a drain pipe, and by the end of the day, with a slight twist of events, I feel like I’m flipping somersaults from rooftop to rooftop like a kungfu master.
For me, going from mostly stay at home mom to Internet entrepreneur has been a huge adjustment. I’m learning that while work life has my emotions swinging from extreme to extreme as badly as a new mom suffering from postpartum hormonal crazies, my kids need consistent stability. When we walk through those doors after work, I have to be ready to respond to crying with calmness and to excitement with attentive embrace.

We were told that starting a company is consuming. Now that we are in the thick of it, “consuming” just took on a whole different meaning. There is more to be done at every turn. There are roles you have to play that you have never ever played before, but learn how to do them you must. There are issues that need solutions that you find yourself churning over and over in your mind whether you’re standing in line at the grocery store or cutting your toe nails. (New inspiration can hit you in the strangest places.) We are still learning how to compartmentalize – to be totally present while playing Legos rather than designing our next cool feature in our heads. Compartmentalization is a skill that every entrepreneur desperately needs to have.

Having done some crazy things like jumping off an airplane, swimming at the edge of Victoria Falls, and getting trapped in a game reserve at night, starting a startup feels like a long drawn out thrill ride. On one hand, you feel like you have some control because you can always work harder, try a different solution, or make that one more investor call, but at the same time, there is so much out of your control. Yet, it is in the midst of this lack of certainty that you experience a strange sense of freedom. It’s the kind of freedom that you experience from not having been bound by fear to try something that is on the edge of sanity.
Are you an entrepreneur? Share your thoughts on what it’s like to start a startup.

About the author

LiLing Pang is Co-founder and CEO of Trekaroo . She is a mom to two boys and a girl (13, 11, and 3) currently traveling through Central America. Together with her husband, Brennan Pang, they hatched the idea of Trekaroo one summer day along the California coast while searching for the best kid-friendly tide pool near La Jolla with their curious 2.5 year old.

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