Reflections as founder, one year in

This blog has been dormant for a while, and there was a good reason for it :). Since early 2021, I’ve started on the founder’s journey of building Kanmon. Some lessons learned over the past year!

Almost all advice is not helpful.

Most advice is superficial and tends to be generic (and thus not really useful) because the advice giver lacks context. It’s also hard to give full context as so many variables are in play. Context matters a lot more than you think. This insight has made me terrified of advice-giving! I now tend to ask many more questions for context and orient more towards brainstorming rather than giving advice.

Nobody cares generally, only specifically.

This is a good thing if you internalize it. Nobody actually cares about your problems and solutions in general. They have their own set of issues to work out. They only care (specifically) if you help them solve their problem. The same principle applies to your startup in general; nobody really cares about how your startup journey is going; they have their own journey to worry about. Of course, everybody will be amazed by your company, your progress, and what you are building – but that is the polite thing to do. It is extremely easy to get high on this feedback; however, solving customer problems is the only thing that matters.

Complete agency is scary and exhilarating.

As a founder, you have (almost) complete agency, which is incredibly exhilarating. But I’d be lying If I didn’t mention that it is scary sometimes. Everything is your problem – there is nowhere to hide. I now actually know what decision-making under uncertainty looks like.

Managing emotions + compartmentalization is the game.

Going into this journey, I knew that a startup is a rollercoaster of ups and downs. However, the downs far outnumber the ups :). Most of the time, nothing works, and you still have to keep going. I’ve learned that startups are just a series of problems that run in parallel. To make progress, you must manage your emotions and compartmentalize – this enables you to work on the issues in parallel. Every problem shall pass, and the only guarantee is that there is another problem waiting in the wings.

It’s a team sport.

In every job I’ve had till now, I’ve understood that building business, and products is a team sport. However, only now, as a founder, I have truly understood. You can’t solve customers’ problems, create value and build a company without a team. It is often said that startups are bets on founders, teams, and a vision for the future. However, I think an under-appreciated fact is that startups are actually bets by people on each other! I am incredibly thankful for our team at Kanmon, which is willing to take a bet on me!

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