Start-ups 'are more about slog than speedy success'

Entrepreneurs such as Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg have achieved cult-like status, but running a start-up is actually far from glamorous.
Entrepreneurs such as Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg have achieved cult-like status, but running a start-up is actually far from glamorous.PHOTO: AFP

It takes resilience and can exact a big toll on personal life, global entrepreneurs told

The start-up boom has elevated entrepreneurship to cult-like status, but starting your own business is actually far from glamorous, according to a panel at a major entrepreneurship conference on Wednesday.

Three business owners on a panel at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit reminded the audience that being an entrepreneur requires a great deal of resilience and can take a significant toll on one's personal life. The three-day summit, held at the Stanford University campus in California, ends today.

More than 700 entrepreneurs and 300 investors from around the world are taking part, including at least seven representatives from Singapore.

"I don't think you can have it all at the same time," said Ms Leila Janah, founder and chief executive of San Francisco-based social enterprise Sama, who was part of a panel during the opening plenary session.

Her company helps move people out of poverty by providing training and Internet-based work that pays a sustainable living wage.

Women, in particular, face significant obstacles in balancing their personal and professional goals, she noted.

PERSONAL, PROFESSIONAL ISSUES

Their prime reproductive years tend to coincide with their prime professional productivity years… It's a challenging thing to face and I don't think we talk about that enough.

MS LEILA JANAH, the founder and chief executive of Sama, on women facing obstacles in balancing their personal and professional goals.

"(For women), their prime reproductive years tend to coincide with their prime professional productivity years… It's a challenging thing to face and I don't think we talk about that enough. This is a hard road that requires more resilience than anything I could imagine, physically or emotionally."

Ms Janah is also the founder of Laxmi, a fair-trade luxury beauty brand.

Fellow panellists Oren Yakobovich, founder of human rights organisation Videre, and Ooshma Garg, founder of gourmet food delivery service Gobble, agreed with Ms Janah.

Said Ms Garg: "Any overnight success you hear about… all these companies started two to three years before they say they started, whether it was under a different name or different company."

Panellists also spoke on a wide range of topics about their start-up experiences, such as raising money to finance non-traditional businesses, and the role of the Silicon Valley eco-system in their success.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 24, 2016, with the headline 'Start-ups 'are more about slog than speedy success''. Print Edition | Subscribe