Startup Misery – Worth It!

Photo of Adda Birnir
Adda Birnir

Adda Birnir, co-founder of Skillcrush, chooses misery over boredom. For the last two years, she has run a client services company along with her partner Jennifer McFaddenShe talked about her experiences with startup failure, just before she went on stage at NYU’s Skirball Center to demo her product before a NY Tech Meetup.  “We actually created a little startup called Balance Digital Publishing Company.  It was a tablet publishing company.  That was a total failure.

Failing and Learning

“It was a failure because we realized we weren’t the right team to deliver that product.  It was a tablet publishing platform, which would allow you to easily transfer your website into a tablet-compatible website.   There are a million things that go into making a successful business. 

I never really believe in focusing on people’s passion; because at the end of the day, you have to create a business that’s sustainable and functioning. At the same time, if you don’t have the passion or drive for a product, you’re not going to stick with it.  I think that’s what happened with our tablet publishing platform.  We just didn’t have the drive for it to keep pushing it through.

“It was really a good learning experience. It was like this test case of how to do everything wrong. So, I think that has really helped us. What happened is that we had to start the two projects simultaneously.  We were focused more on the tablet publishing one and last on Skillcrush, an online technical learning platform.

It was one of those things where you’ve got your eye on one thing and the other is sort of slowly snowballing and getting a life of its own. One of the things we learned was to pay attention to what people are really responding to.

Choosing Misery Over Boredom

“I had this epiphany when my client services company was not doing very well.  I hadn’t taken in a salary for two months. Everything was just miserable and I thought to myself, ‘why am I doing this to myself, I could just be with a company’.  My personal choice Is misery versus boredom, and I personally will choose misery every day of my life over being bored, because my worst fear in life is to be bored.

Startups are hard and they’re miserable, but they’re definitely not boring.  Every day is a new challenge. That is really exciting and it keeps me interested.”

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