🌞 Earlywork #46: Embracing Failure as a Launchpad for Opportunity
Featuring a guest piece by Stef Safahi (Head of Comms @ Folklore Ventures) & Sally Krebs (Founder @ Arli), Gigs from Airtree Ventures + a One Minute Hustle with Mihalo Bozic (Co-Founder @ envited)
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Air fried for you today is Earlywork #46, a careers newsletter providing free weekly career resources, news, jobs & real-world career stories for young Aussies & Kiwis in the tech, startup & social impact landscape.
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💡Weekly Cheeky Tip
Stef Safahi, Head of Comms @ Folklore Ventures
Embracing failure as a launchpad for opportunity
When I graduated from uni with a degree in Political Science, I certainly felt a fair bit of pressure to pursue one of the more ‘traditional’ career paths tied to my degree: Go to law school or head to DC and work my way up Capitol Hill.
But, seeing as I was in San Francisco at the time and I’d grown up around entrepreneurship, I knew I needed to work in startups. It was clear to me that the scrappy founders and operators building disruptive companies that solved real-world problems were the future, and working alongside them would be a launchpad for my own ambition.
For me, the risk was never working in a startup but not working in one.
When you’re in the epicentre of startup energy and people around you are taking giant leaps of faith in pursuing their own ventures or joining high-growth companies like Airbnb, it’s hard not to feel FOMO.
I always felt that the corporate career path would be there – it wasn’t going anywhere and if I really wanted to, I could go back to that (and later I did when I worked for a large corporate PR firm).
Startups, on the other hand, seemed to run on big ideas and skyrocketing growth. There was a lot more appeal in being employee #5 compared to employee 5-thousand-something at a corporate.
So straight out of uni, I ended up in the most stereotypical startup scenario – working with two founders out of their living room in San Francisco’s Mission District. That startup never took off, but my interest in working within the earliest stages of a company’s growth certainly did.
Fast forward to 2020 and I decided to take the leap and build something of my own. At the start of the pandemic, I left my job in the UK and moved back to the Bay Area. Lockdown felt like the ideal scenario to build something. And so I set off defining a mission and value prop, assembling a team, building (and rebuilding) an MVP, debating our pricing model and organically growing a community around this shared vision. But after my second ‘no’ from a VC, I felt that fear of failure creeping up.
You read a lot about the major founder success stories that you forget that about 90% of startups fail. Even if you get funded, it doesn’t guarantee success. I learnt a lot from this experience but the most important takeaway was that I didn’t actually lose anything by trying – in fact, I learnt far more during that year-long period than I had in the 5 and a half years of working experience I had amassed before.
There’s no such thing as failure if you learn from it. The bottom line is, anyone who has achieved anything great, anyone who has changed the world has, at some point, made a choice to embrace failure instead of fighting it. Now, at Folklore, I join a team of exceptionally brilliant founders and operators and can share my learnings with our community of startups.
Tips for Earlyworkers to come to terms with failure:
Call yourself out: Is it fear or is it procrastination? Fear of failure is often rationalised as waiting for the perfect opportunity, the right time, a less risky idea, a better experience.
Sounds cliche, but a bit of list-making is always a good starting point if you’re feeling paralysed by fear. Determine what are the pros/cons or the best-case/worst-case scenarios and use that to guide your decision-making.
Remind yourself that ‘failures’ are beginnings rather than endings. This extends to all areas of your life.
Sally Krebs, Founder & CEO at Arli
Deciding to take the plunge into founding a startup and what made me embrace the risk in doing so.
The critical thing about risk and the ‘fear of failure’ is that it’s all relative. Does the risk of jumping in a pool and feeling cold, outweigh the risk of missing out on the thrill of the swim altogether? Does the fear of starting a business and failing, outweigh the fear of never knowing what might have been? The important thing here is that you’ll never know if you never attempt it. I wholeheartedly believe it’s better to have ‘tried and lost, then to never have tried at all’. Life is too short for ‘what ifs’.
The amazing thing you discover about ‘failure’ (although I wish it had a better name) is that it is the greatest source of growth, wisdom, resilience and humility. When you start to understand how much you can benefit from mistakes, you learn to fully embrace them (and in a kind of warped way...look forward to them).
As humans we naturally fear the unknown—and that feeling is something I’m not immune to. But for me, the risk of watching millions of people around the world suffering from addiction needlessly (including people I love), was greater than the risk of staying in my corporate sales job—wanting to do something but being by crippled by self-doubt. So while it may have seemed riskier to the people around me to quit my job and take the plunge into the start-up world, for me it would have been far riskier if I didn’t.
Life has thrown me more than a few curveballs, which means that risk just doesn’t scare me as much anymore. Not because I’m reckless, but because I’ve been forced to reflect on what’s most important to me and the people around me. I understand how fragile life can be, so the greatest failure of all is to not try everything in your power to make a positive difference to the world...and I think that applies to anyone.
Insight into the day to day struggles of founding a company – how it's not all roses & fairies and AFR front page raises
Founding a company grew a different kind of ‘company’—extreme self-doubt and it is relentless. You have decided to take people's money; convince people in high-paying, secure jobs to work for you; and you spend the majority of your waking hours trying to bring something to life that no one else has managed to build yet. The weight of that responsibility never leaves you. But it’s also a gift. Because it constantly demands you to check in with yourself and ask ‘is it worth it?’ and the answer is always a resounding YES.
It’s the age-old saying ‘nothing worth doing is easy’. Hard things take time. And it is freaking hard. Being persistent, determined and unwavering in your mission is your number 1 job as a Founder. But as terrifying as it is - I wouldn’t change it for anything.
What content would you like us to cover next? Anything we missed? Keen to share your own Weekly Cheeky Tip?
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🔎 Gigs Spotlight
🎨 Content & Design Intern @ AirTree Ventures (Sydney)
AirTree is a venture capital firm that invests in Australia and New Zealand's most ambitious technology entrepreneurs that are changing the world as we know.
They are looking for a Content & Design Intern for 2 days per week to join the AirTree fam in 2022.
You'll be working on a variety of tasks to support our Community team, while getting an immersive experience in the tech startup sector.
Apply for legendary roles like these & more at 👉 earlywork.co/gigs
Disclaimer: Earlywork received monetary compensation for the roles featured in this section.
1️⃣ 🕐 💪 One Minute Hustle
We are back once again with One Minute Hustle brought to you by Folklore Ventures, a bite-sized interview with an emerging Australian young startup founder or operator.
Mihailo Bozic, Founder @ envited
⚙️ What are you working on?
A social media events platform that allows you to create events and invite anyone across any platform including Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Messenger, Slack and more. It's called Envited, currently a web app and soon to be mobile app. Imagine Facebook events but for everyone on any platform, so no one misses out on an event ever again.
🌱 How’d you get started?
Was at a pub with my mate Jordan (who's now my co-founder) chatting over beer, I asked him if he'd ever tried to get off Facebook. He said he once deactivated his account but then reactivated it 2 weeks later because he kept missing out on events because there was no alternative to any other social media platform.
So over a weekend in May this year we built a prototype where you could invite anyone to an event on any platform, we used my Star Wars meme page (Just Jedi Things) to validate it by getting 1,400 pre-sign ups, and the rest is history.
🤔 Why do you do what you do?
Because f*ck working a grad job. I didn't spend the first 22 years of my life going to school and university just to sit on PowerPoint or Excel all day in a suit.
I want to change the world, create something I'm passionate about, and see it improve the lives of my family & friends (all whilst wearing a comfy pair of Adidas trackies).
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