How I learned to be a courageous founder
I am the founder of Sincuru, a London-based subscription service that ships weekly bags of recovered produce right to your door. I reflected back on the last 6 months and, if just one lesson learned, it’s definitely how my lack of courage has put the company in hazard. Learned it the hard way!
I grew up in Cameroon, an intrinsically French-minded country. We inherited every single aspect I hate from France. Lack of ambition, low culture of risk, little understanding of risk-taking whatsoever. The ideal career path is a good school, then a good company, then climbing the corporate ladder slowly. I might be caricaturing but I am barely wrong, even if my generation has a different state of mind and is pushing the boundaries.
I left a career in Finance in France to go back to school in the UK and follow my passion, food & agriculture. I had not yet graduated from my MSc that I was already working on a business idea. I ended up starting an Internet Startup, something the average Joe almost always has a hard time to understand. You know, these companies where margins and growth matter more than profit. Go explain that to my Mom!
During the last 6 months, I experienced some of what I read and listened about being a startup CEO.
We got funding from Bethnal Green Ventures, and got that small voice saying “go ahead Steve, now you’re in charge”. I built a small team, had to motivate them, had to hold the vision and give them resources to do the job. We had paying customers, and enjoyed delighting them. We secured contracts with suppliers, and had fun working with them.
Then we had issues with suppliers and could not deliver our customers on time. One of my team members quitted without notice. I realised that I hired the wrong person but did not deal with. I eventually did, but it was too late. I made wrong product decisions, and as a result, the team was not always focused on the right thing. We almost ran out of cash, and I did not deal with it on time.
I made mistakes, and learned a lot. I understand now why a startup founder has to learn fast and do everything faster. In this marathon where every single day is a sprint, I have gained my most valuable asset back: courage. The courage I had to question the social influences I grew up with, the courage I had to make a complete career shift, the courage I completely lacked when I had to make tough calls as a startup founder
Building Sincuru is painful, yet a lot of fun. It is a delightful struggle, an enjoyable hustle. I have been stuck out of the UK for two months now, courtesy of the Home Office. I had to put our operations on hold a month ago, a situation that is surprisingly making me even stronger every day. Because more than ever, I believe in our vision and in our mission. The candle is burning and will keep burning, so I will keep pushing. Because courage is what we founders are about.