As the dust settles on our massive two part Demo Day series episodes, we caught up with one of our featured founders, Dr Carla Harris from Longevity App.
It’s been a long time since Carla wrote about the analogy of the graceful swan, calmly gliding along, with a flurry of activity below the water. We wanted to check in and see if this metaphor is still a daily reality for Carla (a description we hear from startup founders all over the world). Or if her self-described “hot mess” settled somewhere between that and a “cool collective”.
It’s all about finding “balance” …
All people and aspects of your life have to be on board for you to succeed at this – Carla, Longevity
A BALANCING ACT
Right now there is virtually zero balance in my life. I work, I look after my kids and family and that’s it. I know that isn’t a sustainable way of life so I need to be really careful about that not becoming the norm, but at the moment if I don’t harness this opportunity I’ll miss it altogether. So I’m all in.
AN ACCELERATED OPPORTUNITY
SheStarts is a really busy program (amazing), but I thought there would be a bit more flex time. Having said that, the many activities within the program have forced me to do a bunch of stuff that I wouldn’t have done (or thought to do). I can therefore achieve more than I otherwise would have. I guess that’s why it’s called an accelerator…
Hustling is pretty damn hard.
People think that because someone connects you to an individual or a corporate partner for instance that the deal is done. Far from it. All that really gets you is one meeting or introduction. The rest is up to you to get whatever you’re wanting to achieve over the line.
The amount of feedback you get is insane. I knew going in, having gone through the lean startup and design methodology process to create Longevity App, that there would be opinions left, right and centre. But the pressure cooker environment of an accelerator makes it an order of magnitude more intense. It can be hard sometimes but you always have to look at it as an opportunity to learn and to improve, which is a gift really.
Being together as a cohort with the SheStarts founders has been a lifesaver. Having others to talk through the challenges, get advice from, encourage and support has at times been the only thing that has kept me going. I’ve made incredible friendships with the other SheStarts founders.
People often think it’s really competitive but I’ve never thought of it as a competition with the other founders, not even during bootcamp when we technically were in a competition. I’m competing against myself if anything – I need to be good enough to run a business that will deliver a useful product and receive future investment, so I therefore need to be as best as I can be. It’s not really about being better than the others. That, and all the founders are all so diverse in our businesses that the kinds of partnerships and deals we would be chasing are completely different to truly be competing with each other.
Sometimes that can be weird for Martin, my co-founder. He’s awesome and I don’t want him to be forgotten just because of his gender either (which is very ironic).
Inspiration is everywhere – the ideas you get, the people you meet, the things you learn.
Carla and Martin, co-founders of Longevity App
I have a lot of planning to do and (sorry to say) a lot of sacrifices to make. It’s now or never so I don’t want to ever look back thinking ‘if only’. Unfortunately that means no me time, very little social time, and missing out on family things here and there. Something I lament in this video.
I’ve realised you have to think a long way ahead. So for instance I need to start working on building relationships now that I might need in a year’s time. The experience is kind of like a microscope (to borrow from my days as a young scientist) – you need to zoom in on the detail and also zoom out to see the big picture, but do it all the time (and simultaneously) to make sure you’re capturing the long term strategy, vision, as well as the detail.
HOW TO STRIKE A BALANCE
From a home-life perspective, having a family and two really young kids (Frankie my youngest was only 6 months old and not even crawling when SheStarts began) means you have to be ridiculously disciplined and organised to get any balance at all. You also need a partner who is willing to be as hands on as you and truly split the unpaid work 50:50.
The reality is that there is such a tight connection between work and home life and I’m finding that the success of one depends on the success of the other. Essentially all aspects of your life have to be on board for you to succeed at this… and I will.
Carla is one of the hardest working founders we have had the privilege to come across and are constantly inspired by her motivation, determination and work ethic. We can’t wait to see what will come next!
To catch up on all the episodes and watch next week, stay tuned here!
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