A Startup Founder's Journey

Sometimes, Quitting Is the Right Move


It looks like my journey as a startup founder has come to an end.

No, I didn’t get fired. Yes, the company is still alive. But I quit.

When the People Around You Have Opinions

I’ve been wrestling with my place in the company since last year. Making the decision to divorce my ex-husband set off a chain of events that would change every aspect of my life in ways I could not prepare for, including my career.

Late last year, the people around me were split into two camps with different expectations: stay in the company or leave the company.

Those who expected me to stay in the company said that I should remain because I helped build it. It was my baby (or so they thought I should see it). I spent all my time working on this project. What if it became successful? What if I quit and it skyrocketed, and everyone who stayed got rich, and don’t I deserve that too?

The ones who expected my departure thought I should leave because they thought I was distracted, fragile, going through too much in my personal life to put in the work to help the company succeed. I wasn’t pulling my weight, and how could I expect to be paid when I wasn’t wearing all the hats they kept throwing at me?

Our company was on the verge of being accepted into a tech accelerator that would require me to move across the country for 3 months. I did not want to go. I was (and still am in some ways) finding my footing being back home and single. But after praying and seeking the advice of the wisest people in my life, God said I needed to stay in the company and go to the accelerator. So I went.

Why I Needed to Stay

The accelerator experience was transformative in more ways than one. I gained a new friend in our third co-founder whom I had never met in real life before. I gained countless mentors and supporters. I gained knowledge that will help me in all areas of my life. I gained new life experiences that would not have been possible otherwise. I gained new confidence in my singleness. I gained a new depth of relationship with Christ.

I also gained new perspective.

I was able to identify what was truly important in my life. What my priorities should be. What my purpose has been this whole time.

Helping people.

So that meant I needed to quit.

When Quitting is the Right Choice

I love my team. I love working with them. But I had a renewed sense of purpose, and it wasn’t in that company.

Back in May, the company was in a tight financial situation. We needed to consider all our options, including finding new jobs. Add to this the finalization of my divorce, and that meant I was in a precarious personal situation as well. I was on the verge of losing my job and losing healthcare in the middle of a pandemic.

I prayed to God that if it was His will that I stay in the company, that an investor would come, check signed, by the end of June.

Fast forward 3 months, we were able to patch up the tight situation and go on until recently. And I forgot about my prayer. But I didn’t forget about the new fire that God had lit inside of me to use the trials He guided me out of to help others in similar situations. When we were on the verge of losing everything again, I started looking for new jobs and figuring out where He wanted me to go next.

It was in the middle of searching and applying for new jobs that I remembered my prayer. I realized that it did not come to pass. The investor never came. And so I had the green light to go.

Some times, God allows for difficult situations to enter your life so that you make the choice to listen to Him and move out of where you are and into His path for you. His plans are better than the best plan we could come up with on our own.

Sometimes, quitting is the right move.

A Startup Founder's Journey

Put Your Money Where Your Mentorship Is

Being a startup founder is not what it’s cut out to be in pop culture.

Sure, founding a startup is portrayed as an un-glamorous hustle out of someone’s garage (think Amazon, Google, Apple, etc.), but there is always a tinge of rose around the edges of that picture, if only because we know now that those companies ended up being billion-dollar companies.

The reality of startups is a lot less… whatever that is.

Less glamorous? Check.
Less certain? Yup.
Less white guy from (insert Ivy League school)? We couldn’t be any further from that if we tried.

Throw in the current state of the economy, and well, you start getting the real picture.

The reality of being a diverse founding team

We are a team of three women, collectively running the gamut of backgrounds and life experiences in 21st Century USA. Three things brought us together: our (current and former) connection to the military, friendships (personal & professional), and a vision.

Nowadays, “diversity” and “inclusion” have become buzzwords in the startup and venture capital arenas. Every fund, accelerator, and incubator is saying they’re all in on diversity and inclusion of underrepresented populations in the startup world. They are mentoring these populations more than ever.

Unfortunately, very few put their money where their mentorship is.

Our company graduated a from an accelerator back in May with pretty good buzz and interest from VCs, angel investors, and potential customers. Customers have flocked to us and so have angel investors. But to date, not one investment fund has given even a soft commitment to fund our company. Our credentials and experience get questioned more than those of our male peers (and we’ve checked) – in fact, theirs don’t get questioned at all. We get strung along to the point where we don’t even get a straight no.

Somehow, after knowing we are well mentored and need investment (aka $$$), all they offer is their time and mentorship. Well, guess what? We can’t take time and mentorship to the bank and pay the bills.

Light at the end of the tunnel?

Despite being part of a group that is notoriously over-mentored and underfunded, we are doing as okay as we can be. There are a several potential paths to revenue in front of us, and we are carefully exploring them.

But in the meantime, our runway gets shorter.

Optimistic but not blind,