Editor’s Note: You’ve got to set out on your entrepreneurial journey half-expecting to fail. Otherwise, you’ll let situations get the best of you, especially when your passions are involved. Ben learned the hard way to bounce back from failed moments and, ultimately, rely upon himself.
Now he’s more prepared than ever to give it another go.
Upon graduation of high school I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Throughout University I can’t say I really knew either. I picked my degree based off of my academic achievement in high school: a mix of Economics, Modern History and Japanese seemed to point to politics and international relation studies.
I’d had exposure to international conferences and leadership forums and naturally felt a career in the diplomatic corps would be a natural fit. However, I can never say that I was truly passionate about it. I loved to travel, and seeing the world whilst working appealed greatly.
I graduated I began to look into applying for diplomat school. However, before I applied, I thought of what I really wanted to achieve whilst I was young. What I really wanted, not what I had been working for. I didn’t really want to BE a diplomat. At the time I had been kicking around an idea for an app that I thought would be really cool and innovative. Time being on my side, I decide to go against the tide and pursue that.
That’s where the hustling began.
My casual job at the time was at the same university where I studied. It was a great job and required that I also be a student to fill the position. I didn’t tell my boss that I had graduated. I needed the money in order to move forward on the app idea. I eventually enrolled in university, then dropped the courses so I could stay a student and keep my job.
I worked and consumed all the information on start-ups I could: Mashable, Techcrunch and Hacker News. I learnt about the history of Silicon Valley, the pitfalls different companies experience and the power that ideas can have in transforming the world around us.
So with my money saved, I went and contacted a developer overseas and talked to him about helping me develop my start-up idea. I paid him some money and waited for the results. Naïve as I was, the results were nothing but a disappointment – bad design and bad code. I was crushed; not only had I lost some money, but I felt dejected.
This was my first step outside of a traditional career, and I had failed. I kept a Facebook page for my app and I would upload a new piece of content each day just so that I felt I was still involved in it. I had emailed a lot of influential people and would receive a number of emails back asking when it was coming. It hurt.
Becoming involved in the local start-up community, I found out that rejection and setbacks are part of the game.
I realised that if I was to build my idea and keep moving forward, I would have to educate myself. If I could do it all over, I would have studied computer science or design. Despite that, I learnt about object orientated programming, responsive design, the social media ecosystem and how a cloud back-end works. I designed my application on a piece of paper and took it to a UX designer to colour and implement.
Where am I today? I’m studying UX at university and focusing my energies outside of that on building my app. I budget my money, so I have funds to devote to this project. I’m not sure how it will end, whether or not I will be successful, but along the way I have learnt a lot and have found something I truly care about. And after all, that’s why I hustle.