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You’re Not Alone: Stories from our Network

Published on 
May 29, 2024

Entrepreneurship can be a lonely journey. Luckily, there are people willing to help. The Alchemist community of mentors, advisors, and, most importantly, entrepreneurs share their advice for navigating the hardship and loneliness of the founder's journey. 

 


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The AlchemistX Team

 

You’re Not Alone: Stories from our Network

Entrepreneurship can be lonely. Every day, founders face challenges in ways most people can’t relate to. From the emotional highs and lows of seemingly existential crises to the organizational strategy that informs your business decisions, running a company can feel overwhelming at times.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Although your best friend might not understand your day-to-day responsibilities, or your parents might ask you when you’ll get a real job, there are, in fact, many entrepreneurs who can relate and empathize with your journey. 

This is much of the work we do at Alchemist. By supporting entrepreneurs with a valuable network of mentors, advisors, and entrepreneurs, we empower the people in our community to understand the founder's journey by learning from their peers who have experienced it. 

We sat down with members of our community to hear their thoughts on their experiences as founders, leaders, and mentors. 

Our takeaways? It’s true, you’re not alone.

 

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Here’s what they had to say:


Find meaning beyond financial outcomes


Starting a company marks the beginning of a long journey fraught with adversity. Time and time again, you’ll be tested with hardship, and it will be difficult to remain steadfast if money is your only motivation for being an entrepreneur. 

Instead, use entrepreneurship as a tool to pursue meaningful work and learn about yourself in the process. 

Ling Huang, President and CEO of Technology North Corporation, says, “Find a reason why you would do this for free.” 

Huang leads a company that improves the number of job opportunities and employment outcomes for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). ASD affects millions of adults in the United States, including Huang’s son, Andrew, though only 21% of people with disabilities, including Autism, are employed. 

Positively impacting millions of people in a way that Huang understands on a personal level is deeply meaningful. This is Huang’s “why.”

Debra Deininger, CRO of N5 Sensors, builds technology to enable early detection of wildfires. This allows first responders to move quickly and stop the spread of potentially catastrophic fire damage. 

“We’re making a difference. We’re going to make everyone's lives safer. It’s an amazing experience to be part of a company that’s making a real difference.” Deininger notes. 

Entrepreneurship is also about learning who you are as a person. As an entrepreneur, there is no room to hide. All of your strengths and weaknesses are out in the open, and you have an opportunity to be honest with yourself. 

Walter Roth, startup Mentor and Founder of Simple Lens, believes that building a business is as about self-reflection as anything. 

“As you’re building your company…if you use your founder journey…to know yourself and be crystal clear what are you creating, what are you expressing from deep within yourself, it’s a critical part of this founder journey.”

Entrepreneurship is an extension of your being. It’s an opportunity to work on projects that you care deeply about and solve incredibly hard problems, and this work can teach you more about yourself than you ever thought possible. 

 

Joining a professional community is critical in your entrepreneurial journey


The loneliness of the founder’s journey often stems from the idea that nobody understands what you’re going through.

Fortunately, this idea is far from the truth. Many people have been in your shoes before, have faced similar challenges, and are hoping that you will open up about your experiences. 

Rick Rasmussen, startup Mentor and Industry Fellow with the University of California, Berkeley, has learned that your closest relationships may not be best positioned to empathize with you.

“Who can you confide in? You may have personal friends, but maybe they don’t understand…can you speak with your board? No, not really…they’re your boss…you can’t necessarily talk about all the issues you’re having.”

In this case, turning to a professional network of like-minded people may unlock the relatability you’ve been looking for.

Rasmussen notes, “You can’t confide up, you can’t confide down, so in a lot of cases, I think it’s really helpful to have a network of peers that aren‘t financially tied to the company.”

Importantly, your confidant doesn’t have to be at a large member organization. Sometimes, the best advice might come from an individual you’ve worked with before or a small roundtable of industry peers. 

Big or small, having a community to turn to can dramatically improve the way you approach your work.

Jonathan Speed, a Founder, startup Mentor, and Investor, says, “Take advantage of your advisors to address hard problems. There are lots of groups dedicated by title and industry that you can join.”

 

Enjoy the experience while you’re in it

 

Entrepreneurship can be a decades-long journey and is not always about the destination.

Along the way, remember to celebrate the many little wins you’ll accomplish, from publishing your first website to signing your biggest client or receiving a happy testimonial.  

These wonderful moments are a reflection of your hard work and dedication. 

And they represent just a piece of who you are as a person. 

Walter Roth asks himself, “How do I make sure I stay connected to myself as I’m creating?”



Walter uses this question to remain in the moment, both personally and professionally, each day while he’s working at his company or mentoring startups. “If you’re a founder…you probably have a tough road ahead of you. Factor yourself in from day one so you’re not deferring your life until the end. I’ve seen a lot of people that have made a huge exit, and they get depressed because they’ve deferred their life for so long.”

Contrary to what many aspiring entrepreneurs believe, success is not measured by how quickly you can get from point A to point B. Taking time to unwind and re-energize will benefit your stamina in the long run. 

Jonathan Speed says, “You’ve got to take time during the day to relax…take time during the weekend to relax. When I go on vacation, I turn off my email and turn off my phone.”

When you’re part of Alchemist, you’re not alone.

There are many ways to join the Alchemist community

Our world-class network of innovators brings together decades of experience in entrepreneurship and mentorship to guide our founders through the ups and downs of running a business, showing each other that when you’re part of Alchemist Accelerator and AlchemistX, you are not alone. 

We hope these stories from other like-minded professionals in our network have inspired and reminded you that your journey can feel lonely, but you are not alone.

After all, Ravi Belani, Founder and CEO of Alchemist Accelerator LLC, says, "It is at the heart of community that the true alchemy occurs." 

 



AlchemistX is the corporate and government services division of Alchemist Accelerator. We partner with industry-leading corporations and governments, take the expertise and tools that have helped make Alchemist startups so successful, and bring them to specialized programs around the world. Alchemist has become a critical hub connecting enterprise founders, VCs, corporations, and mentors.