The steepest learning curve of my life

Usually our blogs are pretty focussed on risk management and compliance or the shiny new features of Alyne, but today I would like to write a more personal blog post on the founding experience.

We launched our company almost exactly two years ago and it has been an amazing ride ever since. I cannot remember a situation where you are thrown more forcefully into the deep end than this. Even though I had a lot of responsibility in my previous roles, you always take the base infrastructure that’s supporting you for granted. From a process for travel expenses to an internet connection for your office - everything needs to be done from scratch. Obviously this is also a huge opportunity to shape - everything - and build a lean and fast business.

My co-founders and I started from a good foundation as first time founders. Good presentation skills, methodical approaches to undefined problem spaces, experience in team management and a deep understanding of Alyne’s market were skills we brought with us from our previous careers.

Despite these assets - new challenges arising are a constant. Setting up the organisation from people, process and technology aspects takes up a lot of time. Startups are certainly booming in Germany and the UK and suddenly everyone is an expert at helping young startups succeed. Unfortunately a very large number of self-proclaimed experts are chasing the shiny new digital world of meet ups with free beer and pizza and don’t actually add much value to your business. It is certainly a process of trial and error trying to separate true experts from time wasters.

A world that was entirely unknown to me until about a year ago was funding and venture capital. You encounter a wide range of individuals entrusted with incredible amounts of money that speak an initially very confusing language of startup and financial terminology. No matter how much you read about the funding process beforehand, it certainly did not prepare me for reality.

It’s no surprise that a startup is time-consuming, but it’s actually all-consuming. At the same time it is a business and as a professional you need to take the personal and the emotional out of making decisions. I find this maybe the hardest task of all. The highs you get from your own success are incredibly high, but the lows of something going wrong are devastating. Managing this balance is very challenging.

Regardless of challenges, for me it was clear that launching a company is “what’s next”. It’s certainly not easy money and when you read about a successful exit of founders, know that the sweat invest is considerable.

So what motivates me as a founder? Certainly the learning curve. I have learned more in the past two years than in probably the 8 years combined before that. The space for creativity is another driver for me. Even when just dealing with administrative things, there is always space for creativity - and of course even more so in designing our product. On a recent trip to Australia I met with some of our customers. It was such a thrill to hear them say that they love our product and seeing Alyne in action at these organisations on the other side of the world. Probably this sense of opportunity I draw from these occasions is my biggest motivator. I can’t wait to see where this journey will take us.

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Karl Viertel

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