First of all, thank you for having the courage to share your fail story publicly! Unfortunately, many people still see failure as something to be ashamed of and they prefer not to talk about it. That’s why I am immensely grateful that you decided to openly share your experience with us here on FailuresAnonymous.
Miha: So, without further ado, let’s just jump into the interview.
Now, my first question for you is: What was life like before your big failure?
Sydney: I was just starting my first business in technology and I knew that I had to find a Chief Technology Officer (CTO). I was new to the industry and people kept telling me that couldn’t continue without a CTO. Until that point, my mentor was acting as my CTO. Before my failure, I was taking what I thought were cautious early steps in the business. I was getting some temporary help building the product and testing it with users along the way, but the process was super slow. I wanted the business to go faster than it was moving but it was very difficult because our resources were limited.
M: How was your big failure and how did it make you feel?
S: This mentor introduced me to someone who could potentially be the new CTO; he was a Ph.D. Computer Software student with a very impressive resume. My biggest failure was giving him that two-week trial to see his work and see how we would work together. His ask was very, very pricey in terms of equity and he was very confident in what he could do. Unfortunately, this was my biggest failure for my company because the code was completely destroyed. In just two weeks, he put us in one year’s worth of technical debt. The product was so broken that it was very difficult to fix afterward. My mentor was extremely apologetic for providing me with that contact, but it was one of those Growing Pains that we had to swallow and face ourselves. In terms of the business, this definitely set us back a lot. That was very painful to have this setback and realize that someone held back your dreams so easily. Breaking it to him that we were not a good fit wasn’t easy either.
M: What was the WHY that motivated you to go ahead and battle all those demons? Could you tell us a bit more about how you bounced back and what techniques did you use to do that?
S: One of these Shark Tank investors named Barbara Corcoran had a great quote when she said that “it wasn’t about how many times you fall, it was about how quickly you can get back up.” I think of that every time I have a setback no matter what size it is. I think that it is transcendent in all kinds of business failures in today’s world because no matter how much research and knowledge we have in terms of how to start a business, we will still have failures along the way. The only certainty that we will have when it comes to starting a business is that there will be failures along this path. I reflected on what happened and how to best move forward. I was very solutions-oriented after getting through my frustration and disappointment and I learn to not be so naive.
M: Who is Sydney today after championing failure? Tell us a bit about what you do today and please share information where our readers can find you.
S: Every single experience you have in your journey to building a business whether it be good or bad, will shape the person that you are. That is inevitable. After Championing the failure, I became a lot more careful on who to take into the company. I set up a deal with my mentor to always provide a technical test when hiring anybody in the company including interns. I learned not to take things at face value because people’s facade of reality may not match what is required for the position; therefore, it may not be what is best for the company. So, before I even look at resumes now, I would have to get an approval of a brief technical test, so I know that we won’t be sinking into technical debt anymore. As the company evolves, there has been more quality assurance and testing going on to avoid any kinds of pitfalls. The best place where people can find me would be to send me the Contact Us Form that is directly on our webpage at www.venturx.ca
M: Is there anything else that you would like to add? Any particular lesson you would like to share? Feel free to share any words of wisdom you find appropriate for our readers.
S: Every Friday/Saturday I try to post an Instagram Live video about “the Peek and the Pit of the Week.” It shows the reflective good and bad points of starting a company. It is a difficult journey indeed. If we learn from our pits, we can only grow stronger. Check it out on Instagram.
So, this was Sydney Wong openly talking about her failures, her WHY, her motivation, and some lessons learned.
Sometimes we can put faces to the stories and sometimes it is still too early and that’s why you can share your story anonymously. But if you feel like talking openly about it then do contact me and we will arrange an interview just like the one above.
You can always reach me by sending me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.