Making of the Entrepreneurial You
DiligenceVault turned five years old this year! It all started with the vision of creating a digitized, quasi-automated and two-sided platform for the investment management industry – a lofty idea given how slow the investment management industry moves, increasing fee pressures, and the bifurcated nature of the industry being both forward and backward at the same time. Five years in, the DiligenceVault platform sports over 8,000 users across nearly every continent, powering over 80,000 diligences and over $8tn in assets under diligence. Many thanks are due to the incredibly passionate and smart people who have joined DV on this journey!
In the excitement of today, and not to forget the past that defined this milestone, it’s good to reflect on the journey. Many entrepreneurs are inspired to start fresh after years of working in a complex environment where the process often crushes the purpose. When starting out, it is exhilarating to let purpose define the process! It’s also a real whirlwind of excitement to cut out the noise and celebrate the signing of your first client, receiving your first client service call, and your first client referral.
In entrepreneurship as in life, for every right swipe, you’ll be swiped left many more times. You will have people disappoint you, be rude to you, undermine you, or even worse be indifferent to you. You can feel exploited. You learn to deal with a sense of entitlement and grandstanding. You see bad behavior, even violations of ethics, but there is no ethics hotline to turn to. You will be judged, perhaps harshly. You will sift through lots of well-intended advice to decide what’s right for you. You will have to slow down at times in order to accelerate in the future. Your enthusiasm mustn’t diminish. Motivated by your vision, your drive needs to be just as fresh as it was the very first day. You need to develop an appreciation for small wins, and the grace to embrace the lessons which come with the tough losses. Through all of this, you must continue to remember that the person you are when you started is not the person you need to be in order to succeed.
Who Needs Sleep? You Need a Team!
There will be many nights when sleep evades you. Sometimes you will stay up all night working, driven by the excitement of building something new. Other times you will be researching competition, strategizing pricing, or thinking deeply about how to keep up with your growth trajectory. Then there are the nights you spend obsessively Googling topics like, “Why are people rude?” or “Why don’t they see the big picture?” But those nights, they are answered by the evenings when you feel deep gratitude for your team, when you’ve all just exhaled relief for a small victory and a big one, the same. When the curiosity to discover new approaches, deepen ideas, and learn from both clients and investors will be pivotal in defining the meaning of success. When everything and everyone feels in sync. You know that you are not alone. The team and the overall team-spirit will influence the outcomes of both success and crisis situations.
20,000 Year Old Journey
This month as the world celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, the words of Neil Armstrong resonate:
We may hope, but we should not believe, in the excitement of today, that the next trip or the ones to follow are going to be particularly easy.
The same is so very true for entrepreneurship. Compared to 20,000 years ago when some say entrepreneurship flourished for the first time, today’s plethora of resources, access to global markets, technological innovation, and accelerating information flows have meant that the barriers to entrepreneurship have declined tremendously, so more individuals are taking the leap. I took that leap. I had expectations for many things, most of them short of what I’ve actually experienced. The entire journey, with all those aforementioned highs and lows of the emotional roller coaster, has actually been what is most noteworthy. It has taught persistence – the proverbial entrepreneurial grit.
The road ahead has new challenges, but I trust it will certainly be rewarding. We hope that DiligenceVault will soon go from 8,000 to 80,000 users, and on to the next milestone. In that process, I will take the left swipes in stride, stick close to my team, stay up too late or wake up too early. I’ll do this because the next experience, big win or small set-back, is my teacher today and she hasn’t let me down yet.
To all itching to start your entrepreneurial venture - the journey will create a new YOU – a wiser and humbler you that is much stronger in ambition, in determination and in creativity. It did me, anyways.