About two years ago I had the honor of meeting one of the smartest men I’ve ever met. Fate had me meet with him after answering an online classified job ad where he was seeking marketing help. At the time, all he had was his idea drawn out on a whiteboard, and a couple of designs on his phone. Coming from a matchmaking and marketing background, I was instantly attracted to his idea, because it solved a huge problem that no other dating company had tried to solve in 20 years. I told him I wanted to be a part of it, and became his Cofounder and VP of marketing within a few months of proving my value to him.
I don’t have to tell you how difficult and challenging the past two years have been for us, but I can say it has been the most amazing journey I’ve ever had in my life. I want to make one thing transparent: I’m not leaving my startup for a job because I don’t like it anymore. I’m leaving because I have an eight-year-old son and bills to pay. I love my startup more than anything in this world, I consider it my second child. I put my heart and soul into it 14 hours a day, seven days a week, for two years without any pay. I don’t mind the hours, I’ve actually learned to thrive on it, and find myself a bit emotional when I’m not working on it. It’s like going to Neverland to fly with Peter Pan, and then coming home to regular old Earth.
I often read about investors who focus on female founders, and invest in early-stage companies. When I reach out to them, I don’t hear back, or they say that we are too early for them. Wait a minute, isn’t this an “early stage” investment firm? How can you be too early for an early stage investment firm? I get confused about this because from what I understand, investors look for a couple of things:
- Proof of concept
- Some sort of traction
- A solid founding team
- The technology (hardware of software platform) already built
- Early signs of revenue
The peculiar part of my story, is that we have all of this and much more, and have even raised over $100,000! Yet still, investors have not helped us reach the next level by investing a small Seed round to help us really take our platform to the next level. There’s only so much I can do as a single parent, to take care of my son, and pay my bills, while running a tech startup that doesn’t pay me any money. I have to do what is necessary in order to survive and take care of my family. It pains me to take a job when I know my startup is going to succeed, it’s obvious that it’s only a matter of time.
Luckily, my team can pick up my duties while I am working at my job, so there’s still hope. I think it’s funny when investors ask the founding team to run their startup full-time, and I’d love to ask them a simple question. How can I work my startup full-time if I have no money to feed my eight-year-old son, pay my rent, put gas in my car to drive to meetings, pay for my phone and Internet bills, pay for health insurance, and just my basic human needs of survival?
Investors who want us to work full-time, should give us money so that we can work full-time. My mother is dead, my father is dead, and I have no family to help me with my bills. My mother actually died just a few short months ago while I was right in the middle of the second year running this startup. We had committed investors in Philadelphia at this time , but they backed out last minute the day of her funeral of all days. We were too risky for them we have a California style platform and didn’t have 1M in revenue yet . Did I give up? No, I cried and I mourned. But I kept moving forward, to make my second child grow. It’s what my mother would have wanted. My team supports me, my coworkers and friends support me, what family I do have supports me, but not financially. Therefore, I have to take a job that will pay me money, and I will work on my startup when I’m at home at night, and on the weekends. I’m very effective, so the hours I invest will be double what a normal entrepreneur puts in.
If you are an entrepreneur, and you are reading this, then you know how hard it is to do what I am about to do. If you are investor and you are reading this, shame on you. You say you support early-stage companies, you say you support female founders, you said you support companies that have all their pieces in place. Well let’s see if you support me and my team, I’m waiting for your phone call.
Ironically, the job I took is a Business Funding Expert for a leading investment firm. So now I have to help them manage their funds, invest in companies, vet entrepreneurs, and perform due diligence on their companies. All the while I couldn’t get an investment for my own company. Apparently, irony (not misery) loves company.
Yours truly, a single mother, with no parents, an amazing startup, an incredible founding team, proof of concept, traction, early signs of revenue, angel investors, 250k downloads, and a live (both Apple & Google app stores) breakthrough platform that is already changing the way people form relationships in real time, in a space that has needed disruption for two decades.