It’s not how hard you can hit

myguidie died yesterday. It was one of the few, sane ideas born a year ago during the 1st Startup Weekend Warsaw. Now it’s dead, and the only questions lingering are: what will @olasitarska do next, and what will everybody else do?

The startup scene in Warsaw, and Poland in general, is about to go through its first major trial. It started to heat up a year, maybe two years ago, with teams & ideas springing up everywhere. $1B acquisitions are a major inspiration and caffeine-laden parties like the Startup Weekend only add fuel to the fire. Now, when the toughest leftovers from the scene’s pioneers are failing, more and more people will start wondering whether to call the whole thing off and get a “real” job. I expect many will.

Here’s when the fun begins.

Business is tough. Really tough. You rise and you fall and your success depends on you being able to rise again. Fall seven times, get up eight, as the Japanese saying goes. And you can read all you want about failure being the new success and being oh, so great, such an educative experience. It still hurts like hell.

If you’re a struggling entrepreneur in need of a role model, here’s one for you: Rocky Balboa. “It’s not how hard you can hit. It’s how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward!

It’s not a rodeo, cowboy

The market for something to believe in is infinite. I haven’t seen any better evidence of this being true, than during yesterday’s finale of Startup Weekend Warsaw. The team with the most daring, creative, inspiring idea for a project won by a landslide and swept away half of the numerous prizes. Business played second-string.

Some people were clearly dissatisfied with the outcome:

Perhaps rightly so, perhaps not, but the truth is that an event of this type isn’t about building a business. You can’t build anything of quality and value in a 48-hour, caffeine-laden, sleep deprived, headlong running weekend. You are constantly distracted, overworked, haunted by the ever closer deadline, so as a result you cut corners – lots of them, just to be able to show something, anything in the end.

You can achieve two and only two things, really:

  1. Meet plenty of quality people – be that your team mates, which you will be testing out right there on the spot, or mentors and judges, who are also potential investors, clients and overall good business connections.
  2. Brainstorm and iterate over numerous variations of your idea – remembering that your expectations of the market, customers and value of your product are likely to be amiss at least the first couple of times. You’ll do that with the help of mentors, people with 10, 20+ years of business experience, whose time you normally wouldn’t be able to afford.

Running a business requires True Grit. Precisely the like of sheriffs in the old days of the Wild West. Staying atop an angry bull for 8 seconds will make the crowds cheer, but how about trying to catch that bull when he’s out in the wild? And what if the bull doesn’t care? “Being in business means fighting obstacles, one after another, EVERY SINGLE DAY” (via @ForPiter) is the smartest thing I heard over the last weekend and it’s something that all participants will eventually learn, if not from others’, then from their own experience.

I saw that kind of persistence in Justyna Goławska of TradycyjneJedzenie.pl and Przemek Białokozłowicz of CAREgiver who pursued their projects despite having little popularity among the crowds. I raise my glass (of coffee, for now) to the underdogs.