MIND THE HUSTLE is a new blog series that will talk business, entrepreneurship, and HUSTLE, led by a quote or song lyric as the theme.
"And then they say it happened for me overnight, yeah I guess / I guess it took ten years for me to be an overnight success"
Dark Sky (Skyscrappers)
First let me say, HAPPY NEW YEAR! While many people mention "new year, new me", that is not at all what I am about this year. For me, it is about continuing to build on to what I started years ago. In 2015, after taking some advice from Wayne Sutton, I took the approach of doing more interviews and getting my name out in the public more. However, note that the articles and opportunites came after I had already bootstrapped by first company, Sheena Allen Apps, to over 1 million downloads as a solo founder and one-woman team. I went into the Sheena Allen Apps venture with the mindset of just wanting to make money and not caring if anyone knew my name or not on a personal level. Of course, that all changed after I realized the importance of allowing the next generation to know that they could too achieve anything, regardless of the odds against them.
Most people were introduced to me in 2015 or 2016 after seeing me speak at Phat Startup's Tech 808, being featured on Paul C. Brunson's Mentor Monday, reading articles about me or my company in publications like Black Enterprise and Huff Post, or seeing me featured in the docufilm, She Started It. While many now know the story of how I started my first app company in 2011 as a college student with no technical background, I had ideas way before then. In fact, back in 2008, I had an idea that I felt could change Blockbuster for the better. My solution was a device called "uView" that would allow customers of Blockbuster to watch their movies on a small device by signign up or using their Blockbuster membership, versus having to come into the store to rent movies. (Sounds familar, huh?) This was sometime between my freshman and sophomore year of college and I had come up with what I felt was the perfect solution. Mind you, I had no real experience in business, but I knew that I had a pretty dope idea and thought that there was no way that Blockbuster would turn me away. After all, I was bringing them something that they didn't have, but was for sure going to take their company to a different level.
Looking back at some of the sketches from my uView device from 8/9 years ago (shown above), I can also recall contacting Blockbuster through their website and wanting them to know that I had the idea that was going to take their company to the next level. I had no business degree, I definitely didn't have the connections, but I had the idea. Blockbuster responded (see email below) and told me that they couldn't accept my idea because it was unsolicited. I was pretty bummed out because I didn't understand why they didn't want to accept my proposal, but I also didn't understand business and the dangers of unsolicted material.
I didn't realize it at the time, but that was the beginning of my journey into enterpreneurship. I have learned so much from that moment of trying to sell Blockbuster my uView device so that they could stream their movies to their customers in a more effecient way. Of course, there are now multiple devices that do that exact same thing, but that surely wasn't the case in 2008. Now, as 2017 begins, I am more than excited to continue to build and learn. I went from trying to propose an idea to Blockbuster in 2008 to preparing to officially launch my second startup, CapWay, in 2017.
The reality of it all is that the headlines and media articles can sometimes be misleading. Don't allow that to fool you. Nothing about being an entrepreneur is easy. However, as cliché as it sounds, if you have a dream, go for it! Stay inspired and keep pushing. The journey is well worth it, even if it takes you "10 years to have overnight success."