It’s crazy to think that it’s already been a year since we launched the first version of Friend Theory
Given it’s our first year anniversary, I wanted to write this post and reflect on what we’ve learned. Hopefully, this will give you insight on what it is like to venture on a journey that you are truly passionate about.
For those of you reading this that aren't aware of what Friend Theory is, it's a project I started together with my good friends Carlo and Guillaume.
Essentially it's an app that connects you to your friends of friends and community buddies so you can find anything you need when you travel, from accommodation to local tips.
Being a first time founder (just like being a first time traveler) is an incredibly exciting time, but it can also be intimidating and challenging.
I have come to the conclusion that founding a startup is very similar to traveling. It can be perceived as risky and unconventional; it can also be frustrating and expensive and some people might think that you are wasting your time.
On the other hand, both traveling and leading organisations can have a positive impact on society and be the best way to learn and grow as a person. Taking an idea and turning it into a company just like traveling, will put you into situations that you’ve never been in before. In both cases, you have to figure out how to problem solve, ask questions and ultimately get from point A to point B.
Based on my experience traveling the world with Friend Theory, here are the biggest lessons I've learned this year:
1 - Don't wait, Start now.
We launched Friend Theory a year ago. We went from 3 good friends launching a basic website out of a university storage room in Melbourne, to touring Europe for 40 days straight, then launching a mobile app from Tel Aviv, and getting invited to present the project at Stanford University.
Now we have grown to an incredible 10 person team – it’s been a hell of a year so far.
If we didn’t start, none of this would have ever happened. So don’t wait.
Similarly, if you want to go traveling, you shouldn’t sit around and wait. Think about it. How many times have you said, “I really wanted to go there last summer” or “I had this idea to start a business” …
Take that leap of faith and go. The only thing that’s stopping you is you.
2 - It's all about the journey, not the destination.
We’ve all heard this cliche phrase, but it’s so true. The best thing about traveling is the journey. The ups and downs, the detours, and the unexpected will make you grow as a person.
Similar to traveling, the success of startups doesn’t come from the initial idea, it’s all about execution and how you get there.
We initially launched Friend Theory as a way to help you find travel accommodation through your friends of friends. However, we soon learned that there are many other ways we could connect you to friends. We expanded and broadened the scope so that, yes, you can share accommodation, but you are also encouraged to meet up to surf, grab a coffee, catch a yoga class, or simply get a recommendation about a good restaurant.
The journey of a startup and how you adapt to changes is what matters. Stick to your mission, but be forward-thinking. The product will change, but the reason your company exists should always remain the same.
3 - Focus on people.
Something that we’ve learned this year is to focus on building Friend Theory with the right people.
Similar to going traveling, if you go on a trip with the wrong person, you might end up having the worst trip of your life. If you go with someone that you admire, respect, and enjoy being around, you will have the best trip of your life.
Make sure the people you work with, travel with, and surround yourself with are good people. This is one of the goals of our company. We want Friend Theory to connect you to genuine and trustworthy people, so you can be the best version of yourself wherever you are in the world.
We’ve been very lucky to build an incredible dedicated team and can confidently say that if you surround yourself with good people, the rest will take care of itself.
4 - Give and you will receive.
Karma. It’s real. Make sure that you give, give, give and give more. The more you offer to help, listen, lend, the more you get back.
We’ve received an incredible amount of help and advice from so many people. This has been pivotal in helping us get to where we are today. Looking back now, all this help has come because we are building a product with open arms, a product that helps people, and that has a positive impact on our society.
The Friend Theory community is based on karma. As more people open their doors and share their tips to their friends, more and more travellers will experience genuine connection and experiences.
4 - Be patient, good things take time..
Everyone says that for a startup to succeed, you need to move fast.
It may sound contradictory to say focus on patience, but hear me out.
The best things in life take time.
Relationships are not built overnight.
Skills are not mastered in a day.
Impactful businesses don’t pop out of thin air.
This doesn’t mean you should sit around and wait for something to happen. Generate ambition. passion, and persistence. Good things take time.
If you are patient, you will keep pushing and pursuing your mission and you won’t give up easily. As time goes by, you’ll look back and realise that being patient helped you achieve your goals.
As I look back at where Friend Theory was a year ago and reminisce on all that we’ve been through, I am reminded that we should be patient. Little by little, we are achieving our mission: to help everyone find a friend, anywhere in the world.