October 28th has a very special meaning for me. Especially today.
7 years ago on this day a midwife brought me the daily and my newborn daughter Eva. It was a coincidence that the article about my company GymZap was printed on the day of her birth. That made a nice party at the hospital!
The article reported us winning the Growth Company award at the Global Entrepreneurship Competition in Barcelona and quoted the one and only Randy Komisar from Kleiner Perkins naming me "fearless"
. This impressed even me so much that I later registered the "Big Heart" brand in Germany and started studying courage and fears in detail.
Behind the scenes, however, I was truly afraid. It was not a planned pregnancy. Although it is considered impossible in Western Europe, it was the second time I was in the same situation. (I first got pregnant during my MBA and actually started my company trying to make the best of the unexpected situation.) And although I loved the startup back then as much as I do love my daughter today, I knew this time it wouldn't work.
I decided deliberately against a financing round, bought back my co-founder's shares, and several months later withdrew from entrepreneurship. Eversince on October 28th I have celebrated the wonderful gift of life and mothership, and the end of GymZap. It took me a long time to become "fearless" again.
I wish that we would all have more understanding for people in unique life situations and with different backgrounds. I do not refer to the luxury problem of "having it all", we white European women have - struggling between family and career. I mean true empathy towards every single background and the potential every human being has, despite of their current job description, country of residence, or interests. Back in 2002 at university I was the only one in the audience that was upset by a professor who claimed that half of the better students would become consultants! None considered entrepreneurship as a meaningful career back than.
Particularly the VC industry and media have been driving a standardized image about entrepreneurs - all white, male, extrovert, and you name it. I am happy about the current development towards diversity (e.g. the first VC fund for introverted founders in the U.S.), but also the interest in female entrepreneurs. In times of change we need to tap into the whole potential of human nature. We are not an army but the result of millions of years of evolution.
My daughter turns 7 today. They say the first 7 years are the most important ones. This is also true about startups. I am so proud of her and how she has developed. I truly wish that she would always stay as "fearless" as she is now.
This October 28th I celebrate her and us, but also courage - ready for the next growth project.