Welcome To The Startup Odyssey

Hello world and welcome to my first blog post. My name is Saular Raffi and I’m a software engineer and aspiring entrepreneur. Although, I’ve grown tired of saying the word “aspiring” and so, I’ve decided that I’m going to change that. But first, a quick little rant about an experience I had several months ago. With that said, sit back, grab your herbal tea, Monster energy drink, or whatever the hell you drink when reading internet stuff, and enjoy.

A Quick Story

At the end the the previous year, I had taken a trip to Mexico. It was an incredible experience, especially since the entire time I was there was spent outside of any resorts and more around the locals themselves. One experience in particular was memorable and it took place when I was exploring the cenotes. For anyone that doesn’t know, a cenote is a deep natural pit of water, often underground but also found above ground. Well, one of the above ground cenotes I went to had a multi-level platform where people could jump off of and into the water. I asked one of the locals how high the very top of it was and he replied with, “50 feet.” My stomach churned a bit. He also said that no one had jumped off that point all week. As someone who had a fear of heights and couldn’t go up a 10ft ladder without getting sweaty palms and knots in his stomach, I would naturally have avoided the platform all together.

But, I noticed something…I was drawn to it, as though it was calling for me. I couldn’t shake the feeling, so I decided to at least go up to the top and if that’s as far as I get, then so be it. The closer I got to the structure the less stable it looked and I was even less assured as I climbed up different levels. When I got to the top, I slowly inched my way enough to where I could see past the edge and into the ever so sinking abyss that was the cenote. My brain instantly yelled at me, “F*** that!” and I stepped back, grabbing onto a nearby tree branch with my shaking hand. I told myself that this isn’t necessary. I mean, what’s really the drawback to turning around now? No one is expecting me to jump, there are no consequences to not jumping. And then I started thinking about all the other times I mentally vomited the same weak justifications to myself. The more instances I recalled, the more pissed off I felt.

So, I thought to myself, “Not only is this necessary, it’s crucial that I refuse to back down from this challenge. If I do, then I only build up the same bad habits of backing down and I’m going to have to put up with kicking myself the whole way back home.” Suddenly, the fear within me was overshadowed by determination and a bit of anger. I decided that I’d rather fall and break my legs than to cower away from this jump. So, with this newfound ride-or-die mentality, I took a few quick and deep breadths, released my grip from the branch and charged the edge of the platform. In one swift motion I jumped off and straightened my entire body. And there I was, airborne, for what seemed like an eternity, and with every organ in my body floating within me in this freefall, I experienced a brief moment of utter and absolute surrender. And then…I hit the water, smooth as can be, like a bullet. When I swam back to the surface, I was greeted by everyone around the cenote cheering for me, but most importantly, I was cheering for myself; I was on clouds. In fact, the experience was so exhilarating and liberating that I went back up there to do it one more time.

Six Months Later

Fast forward about six months later and I still recall that experience with great detail. I’ve also drawn an important lesson from that day: No one expects you to jump, but those are the leaps that count. And, the key is to get the first jump out of the way, because it gets exponentially easier each subsequent time you do it. Trust the process.

That experience was amongst many other things that played in the sequence of events that have led me to this point. So, with that said, I’ve decided to take the leap once again, but this time into the tech startup arena and I plan to stick to the process from start to end. As I strap on my boots and prepare for what’s to come, I thought it would be invaluable to document my process. In this way, I can keep track of my progress, reflect on the steps I’ve taken, keep myself accountable, and hopefully one day look back on my journey with a smile on my face.

Who is this blog for? Well, it’s for anyone who wishes to join me as I embark on my adventure through the harsh yet exciting unknowns that is the startup world. Maybe you’re in a similar boat, whether you’re still in school, out of school and working, married with kids, and you want something more. You want the satisfaction, wealth, experience, and freedom that come with starting your own business. Yet, you haven’t taken the necessary steps to get there, or maybe you had at one point but quickly threw in the towel. Maybe you tell yourself you need to gain more work experience, or that you need to read more books, or do more research. Maybe you tell yourself you’re too old to start a business, or too young. I’m sure the excuses are endless, mine definitely were.

What’s To Come

I’m not after becoming a billionaire or the next Mark Zuckerberg. Rather, I’m working towards creating a rewarding lifestyle for myself, one that includes agency over my own time, being able to travel anywhere I want and whenever I want, working on projects that I enjoy, working hard because I want to not because I have to, and growing wealth for myself and my future family. Not that I have anything against those who have their sights set on their place in the Fortune’s 500 list, if anything I admire those individuals and have found myself caught in that mode as well. But I’m not after the peak, at least not now. At this point, I presume my best strategy to be a stairstep approach of creating a series of small to mid-sized businesses, then eventually larger businesses with greater scale and income potential. In this way, I gradually develop my experience, skillsets, and confidence while minimizing both risk and overwhelming stress. While this approach may take longer to find substantial success, I believe in this crawl, walk, run approach.

I have a 3 year timeframe that I’m working in. Why 3 years? Well, honestly it’s because I’m turning 30 in exactly that many years and I want to accomplish and experience as much as I can by then. And yes, that would make today my birthday and what better time to set new goals in motion. Speaking of which, my goal by the end of this timeframe is to be consistently generating $30k-50k MRR. My stretch goal is to have that number be in the 6-figure range.

In addition, I’ve declared speed to be the name of the game. I know myself, I’m a planner, and a diligent one at that, but the problem is that I can get stuck in the planning phase and end up taking no action or taking action way later than I should have. I also often find myself going down rabbit holes, focusing on the small and insignificant details whereas I should be focusing on the larger, more impactful things. And, I get caught up with what I like to call, “information consumption porn”. I feel as though I need to read more, learn more, listen to one more podcast, watch one more video before taking the next actionable step. These are all examples are things that make us feel product but are really just eating away at our precious time. This is the fat that needs to be cut out.

Final Thoughts

I don’t exactly know how I’m going to structure these posts, what kind of tone I want to convey, or how often I’m going to post. The most important thing for me is that I just start and I will figure out the details as I go. And, that’s the mentality I’m going to carry through this process. Yes, do some planning, but also realizing that it’s not going to go according to plan and most of my realizations are going to come as I work through the process.

The proceeding posts will hopefully be less of a mind dump and more concentrated around concrete actions, mistakes, successes, and lessons I’ve learned. I’ll start out posting weekly or biweekly and see how that goes, potentially increasing or decreasing the rate down the line. So, with that said, I’m picking up the lantern and voyaging off into the unknown. I’ll light up the path as best as I can. Join me on my odyssey.

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