A reflection on chasing my unicorn startup dream for 17 years

A reflection on chasing my unicorn startup dream for 17 years

It’s been eight months since I decided to take the plunge and develop another startup. After deciding to take a break from entrepreneurship in November last year, it took me just four months to chase the unicorn dream again.

I have this love-hate relationship with entrepreneurship. I love the fact that I can develop an idea, see it grow, decide on its path, and watch it evolve. But I also hate the pressure, challenges, late nights, and stress that come with it.

I guess there’s just something about chasing the unicorn dream that keeps me going. Maybe its the opportunity to make a difference or create something totally new for the future.

Price to pay

I have to admit that some of the startups I ventured into failed spectacularly, putting me in greater debt than I already was. My last venture failed so bad that I decided to take a break from it all.

Most people think building a startup is the “in thing” to do, that you can “succeed” easily, and that you can get people to believe in your idea. It would be good if all of this is true, but sadly it’s not. I guess this misconception happens because the media always talks about unicorn startups. But what about those entrepreneurs who chased the dream and failed? I bet their experience is much more valuable and offers greater insight, right?

So, let me share the price I have paid so far in chasing my unicorn dream: time.

I started my entrepreneurial journey when I was 19. I am 36 now. It’s been a good 17 years, doing part-time freelance web development in my early 20s and setting up my first startup. I experienced some amount of success but bigger amounts of failure.

In those 17 years, if I had decided to finish my studies, get a stable job, and climb the corporate ladder, I probably would have been more stable in life now and better off as well.

To some people, those 17 years can never be taken back. They can never be replaced. That time was wasted. But to me, those years gained me a lot of experience and knowledge—things that can’t be taught in school.

I didn’t come from a well-off family where daddy could just sign a check whenever I wanted to start a new venture. So, it’s been a tough 17 years for me chasing my unicorn dream. It’s tough chasing it alone and tougher getting people to believe in your ideas.

Not giving up

You must be wondering why, after 17 years (getting married and having two kids), I’m being “stubborn” and still chasing my startup dream. You can say this should be my last shot (I told myself the same a few years ago, but here I am again). I believe I am meant to do something big and meaningful in my life, be it in 17 years, 20 years, or even on my death bed.

Not many people can catch the unicorn. Many did try but gave up halfway and failed. But I am not giving up just yet. I believe that this time, with the right team and partners, we can finally catch the dream. I have sacrificed too much time, money, and relationships to give up now.

My partners have made their sacrifices as well. They shared my vision in my latest venture, which is to develop a cashless ecosystem that will allow users to “Beat the Queue” at any establishment in the world using our POS app. We are also deploying our own digital token so users won’t have to use cash or credit/debit card while on the ecosystem.

If your ewallet is low, for example, and you are in an emergency, you may just send a message to your friend/family and have them send some digital tokens to you to top up your ewallet. Then, you can ask the person you are sending money to, to download the app. That’s the big idea.

Final thoughts

It’s difficult to get people to believe in your dream. You are the only one who needs to believe in it and share it enthusiastically to the world, and hopefully, people will start sharing your dream.

I’ve been chasing my unicorn dream for 17 years, and it has taken me through a lot of misery and challenges. But it also taught me that I need to be focused and committed even if no one believes in me.

If you want to turn your startup dream into reality, make sure you are ready to face the battles that come with it. Mental strength is key. Stamina is a requirement. It’s a marathon.

Lastly, have contingencies from A to Z when you decide to commit and chase your unicorn. Good luck!