Becoming a statistic of the start-up mortality rate is hard for any founder. My first company is on it’s deathbed, yet I’m oddly at peace with that.
I was planning to make a blog post about my journey with entrepreneurship soon, but plans changed after I received a call this morning.
I’m a co-founder of a technology company that’s about to shutdown.
Before I go on, I’ll just give a brief background on what I’m doing right now. I left my company, Artise De Solution, a few months ago to join the ranks of the corporate world. I’m now working for a multinational advertising agency in Makati, keeping myself busy fabricating authentic fun to Filipino consumers everywhere.
Where did Artise start?
My journey with entrepreneurship started in 2014. I started a company with my friends, Nathan, Justin, Viren, and Luis at the heyday of the mobile apps craze.
Nathan was our CEO, the epic closer of deals. Our tech superstar was Justin, the king of all things code. Luis was our Chief Happiness Officer, (trying to) getting us inspired with all his stories about epic sports comebacks. Viren was the meticulous organiser, tackling taxes and all the corporate dirty work. And I was the artsy free-spirited creatives guy.
We made an app called Task, and just like every other tech entrepreneur, we believed it was the next big thing. Our app was going to be the great disruptor in this new age of selfies, social sharing, and mobile apps.
The hotel industry had AirBnB. Transportation had Uber. Restaurants will have Task!
With our rockstar team, we were going to beat the overwhelming odds of start-up failure; 90% to be exact. If the USA has Silicon Valley, we’ve got Alabang Hills!
The dream was all laid out in front of us. We were setting up a low-capital and high ceiling venture. We imagined that pretty soon, we’d be earning six-digits a month each, become thought-leaders in Philippines fledging consumer technology industry, and grace a magazine cover for breakout start-up of the year; all just in time for me to graduate college as a millionaire. We imagined Artise to become the Virgin of the Philippines, a rockstar-powered multi-industry conglomerate.
Unfortunately, Task did not become the resounding success we had predicted it to be. It flopped twice actually. Restaurant apps in general didn’t make it here. We did end up earning six-figures, though we ended up splitting it to pay for overhead costs of running a business. Not nearly enough for me to make it to millionaire status by graduation day.
Laying the dream to rest
3 years and 3 pivots later, Nate called to tell me that they were closing Artise. Since our last pivot, we were providing tech services to clients. The service industry is incredibly competitive, and a backlog of payments was killing our business.
I had already been out of Artise for 4 months when I got the call. Leaving Artise has been one of the most difficult decisions of my life. Leaving your friends behind in a company you all built together is not easy at all, and heartbreaking to say the least.
But my dreams lay elsewhere, and I knew I couldn’t give anymore than I had. There were too many disagreements with the direction of the company between myself, and the partners. For a long time, I felt that those disagreements were holding Artise back, and that I couldn’t stand sacrificing my needs any longer.
The company didn’t feel like mine anymore. I left hoping that they would find clarity with one less head, and turn Artise into the great tech company we envisioned it to be.
But maybe the company wasn’t any of ours after all. When we started Artise, we founded it on a shared dream of making a product to change the world. But after so many pivots and compromises, the identity of the company became unrecognisable.
There were too many interests to be satisfied, and too little listening.
But strangely enough, I have no regrets. For all it’s worth, I’ve had quite a ride with Artise. We had our victories big and small, hardships, negative balance sheets, and even tears. Artise was the first love that wasn’t meant to last, but to teach us how to start. Every story begins somewhere, and mine starts with Artise.
So thank you to my partners, the employees who joined us on this ride, our investors, and everyone who believed or didn’t believe in us. And most of all, thank you Artise for being the start of many great journeys.