Networking events make me realize that I really live in a bubble within a bubble within a bubble. Most days I'm by myself coding (the inner bubble) for my startup, GoalSponsors, during the day and then coding for contract gigs at night. I might have a couple conversations with some folks during that time (certainly with my boyfriend when he comes home), but I largely keep to myself. When I do socialize, it's usually with my gay friends most of the time (the middle bubble). Then once in a rare while I realize I have to step outside even that shell to help my business and help myself, so I step into the greater Silicon Valley (the outer bubble) for networking events. Thankfully, only that bubble is likely to pop!
So about this event... I decided to go because Appcelerator, the company whose platform I'm building on, was putting it on and I wanted to meet some notable names from there in hopes that I could get connections to help build and market my app. Thankfully, I succeeded in that mission as I got to meet with their CEO and a Director of Marketing, who both seemed interested in what I was doing. In fact, I got the opportunity to meet with them again, so in the end it was definitely worth it! Once that deal was sealed, the rest of the night was free to do what I wanted, which did indeed involve a semi-low-calorie drink or two. OK, who am I kidding, beer and wine goes straight to the gut, no matter how low calorie it is. Oh, alcohol...
Let me be clear: when people in Silicon Valley drink, they do the same stupid things that people who drink everywhere else on the planet do. They drunk-dial their ex, they admit something they shouldn't have, they tell off that person they care about, and they get overly emotional. This is why some networking events in the valley, especially the ones at big conferences, can be a hoot to attend. You have all your professional colleagues around, maybe even some competitors, and you get to watch these people say things they didn't mean to say and do other embarrassing things that make you grateful you didn't drink as much as them.
Which brings us to Hermione and Ben. They are both good-hearted people, and the start-up they're working on comes from a place of wanting to change the world, and that's definitely something to be admired. And let's be honest, they are taking a much bigger risk by building an expensive hardware device AND coding an app for it. I'm not raising any money, but they're raising $500,000. I may be struggling financially, but I'm not in debt outside of my mortgage (which I'm very grateful for), so kudos to them for having the balls to take that risk! It's interesting that we're both in the same general space with our businesses (healthy and wellness), but our apps and approaches are completely different. In particular, I'm not building my app with a sibling!Believe it or not, I actually do have a brother who would be perfect to do business with. His name is Sean. He's straight, a huge sports guy, went to Harvard Business School, and is opposite from me on the political spectrum. My mom used to say we were born from different ovaries. He has the business/marketing skills that I lack, and although he lives far away, for a while I've wanted to start a business with him, because he's such a smart guy. We think very differently, but our skills complement each other. As a cofounder, I've always thought he'd be a perfect choice. Well, seeing Ben and Hermione fight made me second-guess my thoughts of starting a business with my brother.
The things that they said to each other were both harsh and, if I were in their shoes, I'd feel quite hurt. I did my best that night to be compassionate to Hermione, who was really feeling the stress and anxiety that start-ups bring in full force, but it was hard to watch. Not to mention, I think I'm in between enough wars as it is, I'm not about to get myself involved in this one. So I mainly held my place on the sidelines and did what I could do be compassionate. See, the start-up life is not as glamorous as some folks think. There's a lot of hard work, pain, and suffering. But every happy user that comes in whose life is changed from your product can make it worth it. Just this past week, I had a user tell me they've lost over 10 lbs and it's been less than two weeks! It's enough for me to keep going, even with the struggles that come with being an entrepreneur. Not all of us make it out successfully, though. Over 90% of us fail, in fact. And we're all hoping to get lucky enough not to be one of them. Oy vey!
Keep watching Start-Ups: Silicon Valley Monday nights at 10/9c on Bravo! Also, feel free to check out my app, follow me (Facebook, Twitter), or book me for speaking engagements by emailing the address listed at the bottom of my website!