Stocking up: teammates, perseverance and startup life. An interview with the Stashbee co-founders.
David and Anthony met while on the Startup Tribe. One of them had an idea and both of them knew they wanted a teammate. Together, they’re running Stashbee; a community marketplace where people can book secure storage space in the homes, lofts and garages of trusted storage hosts nearby. Neither of them knew just what their escape would encompass, but they’re working harder than ever, and learning everything they need on the way.
We caught up with them to ask them how they were doing in the months after The Startup Tribe.
What were you doing before you started?
D: For three years I worked in the midlands as a Management Consultant at BearingPoint. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the work. I did; at least initially. But over time I became very unhappy with the work life balance and all of the travel involved. I was living in hotels, constantly travelling and hardly ever at home to see friends and family. I stopped waking up in the morning positive about going the day ahead.
A: I was working as a management consultant for a city-based firm. At the time, though I was doing challenging work in a field I was interested in, I was unfulfilled. In the past, I had tried my hand at another start-up which didn’t quite work out. So this was my second time trying to escape.
What were some of the things holding you back?
D: Even though I had actually planned to do this for a long time and had saved up the money to do it, I was very nervous about leaving a well-paid secure job. I was new to the startup community and really wanted a business partner and a community to provide support and encouragement.
A: I didn’t quite understand what it is that mattered to me. I now have clarity on what it takes for me to find meaning in my work: I need to be solving a complex problem which helps people with a real life problem. The long-term goal needs to be big/ambitious/with a high potential reward, and I need to be learning something new every day. Funnily enough, I was NOT afraid of what others would think, and certainly not precious about losing money along the way.
Why did you sign up to the Tribe?
D: I was hoping the Tribe would push me in the right direction. I wanted to meet people, especially a business partner with similar ambitions. I was really stuck in my job and needed help with the transition.
A: I signed up to start on the September 2015 Tribe to hold myself accountable and to take the (scary!) leap into start-up life by Christmas 2015.
What was the Tribe experience like?
A: Tribe for me meant firstly a family of like-minded individuals going through the same challenge to answer a single question: “how do I overcome challenges (both internal and external) to live a happier, more fulfilled life?” It meant a safe place to listen and talk. And a place to absorb practical advice, tips, tools and hacks. Like learning to get started: not “just starting” is something which I think everyone suffers from; doing the work around the work instead of the work itself, and finding ways to NOT start things (read: Steven Pressfield’s Do The Work). It was a super-food smoothie of inspiration, support, advice and JFDI (“just f*****g do it”).
D: It was great to have people around me who also had a similar ambition to start their own business. The environment was so supportive and it provided all of the tools I needed to trial a product; which I wasn’t aware of before.
What do you think are some of the biggest learnings you got out of the Tribe?
D: I realised that having a job isn’t any more secure than setting up your own business; and that the money I was being paid did not make me happy. The uncertainty of a startup doesn’t scare me anymore because I believe the amazingly steep learning curve is worth the cost and risk involved. In fact, the risk of not doing something is far greater than actually starting something.
A: Persistence. Especially when you are the one telling yourself to stop. Find a goal and chase it like your life depends on it; you’ll figure out the details along the way.
After the Tribe, you’ve both been working full-time on Stashbee. What does your day look like?
D: Today I had a coffee and morning co-found chat. I did some social media content and facilitated a customer booking. There’s a journalist trialling our service for an article whom I had to set up, and I have my head in the business plan and investment pitch deck. This evening, I’ll be speaking to The Startup Tribe at Escape tonight.
A: Some days I’m improving the Stashbee website and dealing with customer queries. On others, I’m working on the marketing, operations, sales, and anything else that needs doing. It’s very busy and very varied. The key is to just keep going.
What have been some of the challenges?
A: The hardest part was the month after leaving my job. My startup idea wasn’t really formed, and in the absence of a schedule imposed by a day job, there was a lot of introspection and self-doubt. The way through that was to focus on the future vision I had of running a company and to take little steps towards that every day. Slowly the pieces fell into place.
D: At each stage of setting up a business, you look back and say that was the easy part. I guess now we have started up Stashbee, trailed the MVP and have had some success I look at the mountain we need to climb to grow and scale this business and I know that this is the biggest challenge I have ever undertaken.
What has been helpful for you to get through the tough times?
D: Having a business partner has really been amazing. You are a team that help each other out throughout the tough times. And when you start up a business your support network grows with it.
A: Challenging my own and others’ ways of thinking, has made me understand more about myself and others. I like helping people out with a problem, I like a complicated puzzle of any description, and I don’t take anything too seriously. Most importantly, I work, live and laugh best with other people, not alone.
How are you feeling now?
D: I have never been happier. I wake up every day excited by the challenge ahead of me. I also feel totally in control of my own destiny which I didn’t feel in employment. I am excited by the prospect of growing a business and the challenges that will throw at me. If you are not happy with your current role, take a leap of faith and go do something awesome.
A: I’m feeling good. I’m massively excited by the potential of Stashbee and enjoying every day spent working on it. The professional re-focus has also helped me become more emotionally and physically healthy. I’m most excited about the fact that, whether my current venture succeeds or fails, I know that whatever is around the corner will be exciting, different, challenging and fulfilling.
Curious about The Startup Tribe programme? Click here for more details.