I'll fill you in on more details shortly.
Hello everyone! I've founded another forum called Mommy Founders with Christie. It'll be a place totally dedicated to being a woman founder and mother. READ MORE HERE.
I'll fill you in on more details shortly.
... I wrote this post... twice... and it for some reason has had trouble saving. [So to be honest, I'm writing again a third time, but now am just going to upload whatever comes to mind instead of trying to rewrite the post.] Sometimes, the world is telling you that is was not meant to be.
Along those lines, what is meant to be anyways? Sometimes, despite ourselves, things have a magical way of finding their path into existence. You mess up, you try and will it away, it doesn't seem like it would be, but it is.
Now about 6 weeks into the 500 Startups program, it's been an emotional roller coaster. What startup journey isn't? Now about a year after we incorporated, we're taking the time to reframe and rebuild pieces of the business in terms of culture, processes, all the fundamentals that'll help us move faster in the long run. We've had to make some really tough decisions. I mostly feel like my body isn't my own and I'm the "ass" on behalf of the company. The deliverer of tough news and feedback. The one to punch the wall down with my bare fists sometimes so we can go through. Having so many of those uncomfortable conversations a normal human would go shrinking into the corner at... here we are, taking them on, head on. Each week, we're getting better and stronger. This week, I think we actually broke through the darkness and I see the glimmer of light ahead.
Into the light we go. Appreciate that you are cheering us on.
PS, try out GiftStarter. Feedback always welcome. Use the promocode "GiftMe!" to try the GIft Concierge service for free.
On July 6th, we received an offer to join 500 Startups in San Francisco.
Jumping high for joy our @GiftStarter team was SUPER thrilled. It was only the week before, June 30th, 2015, that Christie and I were in San Francisco interviewing with 500 Startups. We wanted this so badly - we truly believe that 500 will help us take GiftStarter to the next level and accelerate.
On July 14th, Christie and I were in San Francisco for our first day of 500. Marvin is the head 500 guy running the batch (Batch 14). Funniest line from him was something to the effect of, "this is like a Chinese buffet. I can say that because I am Chinese. We are not here to serve you. We are available for you. It is up to you to take what you need and want." I LOVE THAT LINE. LOVE the candor. I think LIFE is like a Chinese buffet too - it's up to YOU to figure out what you need and want. It is up to YOU to make it happen. NO CODDLING!!! NO WHINING!
(Side note, 35 out of 800 companies were chosen for this batch. Of the 35 companies chosen, only 2 have women CEOs. It's a sea of tall Caucasian men. I was looking for the Asians of course, only a handful as well. Lots of opportunities ahead.)
We had our first pitch night on Thursday, July 16, 2015 last week. Man... was very nervous. It was great to have the full support of Christie in the audience. Dave McClure standing right by you ready to pounce on the mike, throw random questions and comments your way, ... Fortunately (or unfortunately) all he said about our 60 second pitch was that it was just slightly too long. Mr. McClure is definitely a funny man. LOVE the straight up no BS complete candor of this environment.
Lots of changes will be coming. Our newest hire, Joel just joined the team. We are so excited to have him onboard - high hopes and charging on forward.
June 10, 2015: GiftStarter appeared on Product Hunt
Not sure how they decided on today, but this morning as I woke up before the alarm clock... I grabbed my phone to check what time it was. It was just a lil bit after 6AM. There were all of these message... GiftStarter on Product Hunt!!!
Imagine this. Me: Immediately upright. HUH!? Say WHAT? What to do what to do what to do?
It's now 942PM. We now have 76 "Upvotes". It feels like a pretty proud moment for us, for GiftStarter. We did pretty well. We're smiling. So thought we'd share. :)
*** [FYI: This post was written sometime back in February, 2015. For some reason, I forgot to post it... so here it is.]
I thought long and hard about what photo to include with this post. There really isn't a good one. I decided that the best way to portray this startup journey was to find the longest video I could of the craziest roller coaster video on YouTube. Apparently, the Olympia Looping is one of those "holy grail" of roller coasters for many roller coaster enthusiasts. It only exists in Germany. It travels around all over the country. (I'm not one for physical roller coasters. Not my thing. I can do the emotional and mental ones.)
As you can imagine, there are some major highs we've experienced, and some low points as well on this startup company journey. Yes, just like a roller coaster.
Some excitement had:
Ultimately, I think of the roller coaster as another word for war. We are each soldiers on a mission - fighting battle after battle. Without the support of the team and our family/friends, we would not have this opportunity - to transform gifting.
And personally, without the arms and heart and trust and support of my husband, there is no way I would have the opportunity to do this. The way he wears our GIftStarter tee-shirt EVERYwhere. The way he brings us donuts to cheer the team on. The way he is constantly looking for ways to connect us.
June 5, 2015: POW! It completed today!
Yes, there's an AMAZING gift (Apple Watch, YAY!!!) that's being given with all of those family/friends. The bigger gift is this mosaic that illustrates the community behind the gift. 1 piece, 4 pieces, family, advisors, friends, mentors, investors all together --- amazing! They don't all know each other. They definitely don't all even live on the same continent. They come from all walks of life.
It's magical, you know?
POW! Today, Shari, my sister-in-law, Chris (the guy that married us), and Gina (another GiftStarter advisor) pitched in and finished out the gift. Here's the link if you'd like to check it out. https://www.giftstarter.co/giftstart/Birthday-Love-for-Arry
Birthday party is this weekend on Sunday. So... maybe I'll post up more photos from that so you can be a part of this birthday journey to the end. :) For today (TGIF), just spent the past 3.5 hours recording myself presenting, uploading the 3 minute pitch to YouTube for a pitch application with my husband's help. Cross your fingers we get to present in 2 weeks.
June 4, 2015: Beautiful mosaic of family/friends = art that moves my heart.
Day 2 of the birthday gift campaign my husband started less than 48 hours ago. End of the day, well.... I had to go look again, and that's the screenshot of what I see! More faces of people I love in our lives. It's amazing. My mentor and our GiftStarter advisor, Barbary. Our accelerator mentor, Kevin. My brother. More GiftStarter employees. OMG, the first GiftStarter customer. My husband's friends. Really special experience to see everyone join in.
If you want to check out the gift campaign in progress, here's the LINK: https://www.giftstarter.co/giftstart/Birthday-Love-for-Arry. And if you scroll down the page, you'll see all the lovely messages from everyone. That's the best part... that makes your heart go, "wow, I'm not alone".
Despite how lonely it feels a lot of the time, I'm not alone. I have all of YOU too!!! :) No one is as alone as they may want or worry. It's important to maintain perspective. Just getting home from the Fritsky Chair Dinner with the University of Washington tonight. It was nice to take the evening off and wear a dress, and heels. Yes, heels!! I did have quite a few people come up afterwards ask me where the GiftStarter teeshirt was (LOL).
June 3, 2015: My husband launches my birthday gift campaign on GiftStarter.
Well, how can one be the founder and CEO of GiftStarter and not know when a certain gift titled for me (ME!) comes through - a certain gift started by my husband, the Gift Champion. :) I resisted and resisted all day from looking --- finally had to go take a look at what was going on with the gift campaign that started less than 24 hours ago. OH MY GOODNESS! (See screenshot above -- or here's the LINK if YOU want to go take a look yourself. Pretty sure it's open if you want to pitch in and try GiftStarter yourself).
If you click on the link, you'll see what he wrote on the campaign (so sweet he is):
One of Arry's great loves (other than me & Mochi) is GiftStarter, so it's only appropriate that we do a GiftStarter campaign for her! I know she's been eyeing this watch all year and I know this gift would be perfect for her. * EVERY PITCH IN FROM EVERY PERSON WILL GIVE HER MUCH ENCOURAGEMENT AND BIRTHDAY SMILES. I guarantee it! (it won't be a surprise though, fyi :) I will provide cake and cookout to celebrate her 100100th birthday, so please come over!
WOW. If you look at the screenshot of the gift above, you'll see the corners on the gift are from my husband. My In-laws and mother are there. My maid-of-honor from our wedding (with the green hat). Christie, my cofounder in the middle. My husband's BFF is there. My BFF from college who lives in Asia even pitched in. One of my BFF's in California and a colleague from GiftStarter. Already!!! And kudos to my husband for remembering that I've been drooling and talking about wanting an Apple Watch some day for Christmas or something. :)
You know, the startup journey is very often a lonely one. Today, I am reminded that there's a whole bunch of people out there that do care. I just have to remember. It really is special to get these digital hugs and special notes from everyone. Thought I'd share the experience. I can't believe it, a whole year older in T-5 days.
Time flies. That fact is hitting me particularly hard this morning. A year ago I resigned from my job at a local consulting firm, jumping off the cliff not knowing where and what'll happen next. In about a week, I'll be officially a year older as well. I'm seeing white hairs sprout on my head left and right. I'm noticing the deeper crevices creating indentations on my face. My body is no longer nimble and spritely, it's got more of a squishy-ness to it and I'm out of breath just walking up the hill.
But it's not just the fact that I'm realizing the mortality of life, it's realizing I have less and less time to have the impact on the world I imagined. I feel like I'm at least 10 years behind. Trying to get the world, the team, everything to move faster to catch up. I still have aspirations of getting involved at the world level, helping to solve global challenges around hunger, disease, war, etc. Maybe even help my motherland of Korea (and by Korea, I mean all of Korea, both North and South). Time is running out. There's so much I still want to do and accomplish.
And then I look at GiftStarter because it has so much opportunity to have a meta impact on the world. I see the gestalt of the path to get there. It's absolutely doable. The great thing about growing a startup from scratch is that it's all about gestalt, and picking the right details to nail at the right time with the right people. You lose some battles. It's okay. I believe that by holding steady to the greater plan, the right people will self select to be on the bus and the right things for the company will happen. I have some folks I've handpicked to join when the time is right. Holding steady despite the multitudes of opinions, the exhaustion, and while many things go well, there are many things falling through the cracks. The art of having impact with such limited resources.
And while it's hard, because you can't control life, everything is just that much harder. Incredibly hard. Children get sick with pneumonia. An employee has to suddenly find a home because their housing fell through. Someone's spouse requires some attention ASAP. An investor takes a longer than expected to transfer funds. You end up doing a round trip flight to a city within the same day for 1 (yes singular, one) meeting. Life is lonely as your friends go on with life without you. I wonder if they even notice I'm missing in action. Your neck is having seizures because of just terrible ergonomics doing 100+ hours a week haunched over the laptop. ... Teaches me, it's a marathon. Don't fuck it up with unnecessary health issues.
And so these days, time is like sand slipping through my fingers. I woke up at 6 today, read a little bit, went back to sleep so that I could try and wake up around the same time as my family. Lay on the floor and watched my dog intently looking back at me for a bit. We went for a family walk in the neighborhood. I cooked breakfast. Meanwhile, in the corner of my eye is the figurative clock constantly haunting me of the time that's passing by. I don't like clocks (in fact don't want them around at all in the house) because I feel like I am one myself and there's no escaping that time is just passing by second after second. Tick tock tick tock
It's been a crazy month of May: 1) new site relaunched, 2) new categories, 3) new partners joined (and many more added to the pipeline), 4) new investors joined, 5) better messaging, 6) went to Collision Conference in Las Vegas, 7) couple trips to San Francisco, 8) my cofounder is moving to the other side of the country, 9) my husband's right ear is currently deaf, 10) my dog turned 10, 11) I'm drinking Pellegrino again, 12) I gained another 5 pounds (and now officially cannot fit into my beautiful clothes any more), 13) I started stretching again, 14) I wore heels only 1 day this month, 15) I learned more about who are and aren't my friends, 16) I redid the pitch deck another 25 times, 17) made new friendships, 18) used our barbecue grill, 19) I've pitched to over 125+ investors to date, and 20) finally decided what I want for my birthday. Oh yes, and we bought ice cream sandwiches to eat yesterday. Mmmm yummy.
Time is flying by and GiftStarter is top of mind for me every moment of every day, yet time stops and slows for me when I am with my husband. That stays constant and thankfully for our marriage (you can visit his perspective - he has a new digital presence these days). Such an interesting, eccentric, curious guy that I married. The thoughts of him makes me smile every time.
10 years ago, my Shiba Inu was born and my life was forever changed. I understand that there are many potential life milestones in a person's life - and Mochi is one of them for me.
Here are 10 lessons I've learned from Mochi, in honor of her 10th birthday today: