The Truth about Start-up Life

Before you decide you want to start a business, be sure you understand the difference between:

  1. Doing whatever you want.
  2. Owning a business.
  3. Not having anyone tell you what to do.

Here is what I wanted to do in the past month:

  • A lot of php
  • A lot of javascript
  • Write a new computer game that I had designed
  • A lot of text-mining
  • A lot of data-mining
  • Regular blog posts
  • Analyses and a conference presentation using open data

Here is what I actually did in the last month

  • One hell of a lot of grant-writing
  • A quarterly report for some awesome clients who pay me
  • A whole hell of a lot of garageband and iMovie to get our Kickstarter video together
  • More grant-writing for another grant
  • Writing training materials for some awesome clients who pay me
  • A tiny bit of php
  • An even tinier bit of javascript
  • No data mining, text mining or papers at all

Now, I’m not complaining (much). The proposals, if funded, will allow me to do a whole lot of coding and data analysis over the next two years. I cannot think of a single person I worked with in the last month who was not both really good at their job and genuinely nice – which certainly makes for a hell of a good month. My point is that many days – and sometimes an entire month – can go by without me doing very much of what  I really want to do and the reason I started our product line of 7 Generation Games.

Lately, I cross paths with people in the entertainment industry on a regular basis. No one goes into film making because they want to raise money, but that is what they end up doing because it costs a lot to pay for the actors, equipment, facilities, travel and on and on. Creating a computer game is like that – it costs money for animation, tech writers, marketing staff and on and on. So even though I started this business because I wanted to design and write really cool games to teach kids math, for the first two months of the year, my time has been devoted 90% to raising money.

Yes, there is a certain amount of not being told what to do – I get up at 10 or 11 in the morning, work until 3 a.m. and usually have my lunch break around 10:30 pm. Not many businesses would be cool with that. I share an office with two guinea pigs and a frog. I average driving during rush hour once a week, compared to most people’s twice a day. I’m doing research and development to help children learn math, to help people with disabilities get jobs, and NOT to convince people to take out sub-prime mortgages or sign up for credit cards at loan-shark interest rates.

On the other hand, I just finished a proposal that required the technical abstract be no more than 200 words (I came in at 197), the commercial abstract no more than 100 words (I wrote 99), the project narrative no more than 15 pages, budget narrative no more than one page. The budget had to use the provided template and the entire document had to be in 12-point font, with 1 inch margins all the way around, delivered no later than 2pm EST on February 5. If that isn’t having someone else tell you what to do, I don’t know what is.

All of that being said, while I sit here waiting for our Kickstarter campaign to go live, I wouldn’t change places with anybody in the world.

local_offerevent_note February 4, 2013

account_box AnnMaria De Mars

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