A big hole. There is no other way to describe the feeling I have after having been on the Startupbus than falling in a very big hole. During the course of five days the lives of my and all my fellow buspreneurs have changed for the better. We have learned more than an entire year in college and we have made new friends for life. Every single on of the participants has rediscovered himself (or herself) and most of the lessons we have learned are very personal. Over the course of the coming months, we will all find ourselves making decisions and changes in our lives we never thought we would. Why because? Because Startupbus changes you and the world around you. In this blog I will share with you ten basic lessons that I learned by participating on Startupbus.
To explain startupbus in one sentence for those who have no clue what I am talking about: one bus, forty of the smartest people (developers, designers, business) and less then seventy-two hours to develop a new company with a finished product with people you have never met while driving on a bus from Mexico City to Austin (in our case).
This blog is intended to take the valuable lessons from the bus and share them for you to use. So, what have I learned?
1. Age doesn’t matter.
Half of the people on my team were below the age of 25. They have impressed me in every way possible. Not only are they capable of achieving extraordinary things. They have shown to be extremely creative, entrepreneurial and afraid of nothing. A mentality that I was still looking for at that age. Thank you Rodrigo, Alex, Javier and Christian I have learned from you and you are an example for all people your age and everybody else!
2. There is nothing you can’t do
It all starts with this simple sentence. Not just on the bus. In life in general. More often than not we are being told that our ideas are to far fetched or that you should nuance your thoughts. Just remind your yourself every time when people give you this crap: if Einstein would have made his ideas more realistic we probably would not know him and he would be stuck at E= instead of E=MC2
3. Talent combined with passion beats education every time
No matter what they taught you at school. When you are on the Startupbus or chasing your idea in real life, your combined passion with talents will get the job done. In our team developers were designing and business guys were building a website. We never learned these things at school, we learned them right there and then because we needed it and we managed them because we believed we could.
4. Job titles and job descriptions are worth NOTHING
When it comes to creating your team on the bus or in your real company, job titles are not important. Only hire people who believe what you believe. If your gut feel says they believe what you believe the rest will work out because of the point mentioned above. Create tasks around people and not people around tasks.
5. Dare to step back
Sometimes the right thing to do is let things go. Especially when you are under pressure and you feel that you should be involved in everything, dare to let go and step back. I know nothing about development and instead of constantly checking on the progress (which slowed us down on day one) I stepped back and let the guys do what they do best. The result surprised everyone (me but even more they surprised themselves)
6. Enable, Empower and Endorse your team
People can do things they never thought they could. By simply believing in them and expressing that in your actions they will surprise you. Simply enable, empower and endorse them to see the results. Often this means that your job will be about creating the circumstances to let them flourish. (on the bus this means: get coffee, arrange wifi, let them sleep, put them first:))
7. Involve the entire team
No matter how good your idea is, if you don’t have everybody on the same page, you will be struggling. We lost twelve hours this year because we didn’t involve the entire team in the first phase of the process. From a business perspective we were building the platform from our vision. When we presented it back to the guys who actually had to build it, we all struggled to explain and start building. We could have tackled this by involving them and co-creating the final idea. We would have had more time and a better quality product that would have gotten us to the next round. A hard but valuable lesson.
8. Validate your idea (but don’t let your findings turn you down)
On day two we found out that our initial idea actually wasn’t that different from a couple of big companies we actually never heard of. Realizing this bummed us out for a moment but within a matter of hours we adopted to the newfound circumstances and created actually something that was way better and had a lot more value.
9. You can do more than you think
No explanation needed. YOU CAN DO MORE THAN YOU THINK!
10. Sleep is overrated
When you are really ready to pursue your ideas or business but you still have your job, cut on your sleep. Sleep is overrated and your mind and body can do a lot more when true passion and drive are involved. Up your game and make your dreams come true instead of keeping on dreaming.
So, what have we built?
We have built a platform called Emplify.us. Our goal was to bridge the gap between the people either stuck in their job and looking for a way out and the kids coming from university realising that the things they were taught actually have little or no value. They might be very passionate about other topics but they are lacking experience to actually get hired. We wanted to connect these people to the group of companies looking for passionate professionals but don’t have the budget ton hire them. In this way, the job seekers can amplify their talents and the employers can amplify their budgets.
A word of thanks
I hope my personal lessons have helped you and inspire you to pursue your own ideas. But most of all I hope you hop on a Startupbus near you to experience this life changing journey yourself! I would like to thank my personal sponsors: Thank you so much Hans, Mike, Rolf, Crista & Klaas, Roderik and Dave & Bonnie and my anonymous contributors!! This adventure would not have been possible without you! If there is anything I can do in return, just let me know!