Why our community needs Startup Spouses
(This is a commentary by Willis Jackson.) When I first started out on my entrepreneurial journey, it was almost impossible to find people to talk to. I spent three to five hours a night combing through Google search results for three consecutive weeks because I was determined to get connected with people that could understand
About the Author: Willis Jackson is the founder of ShownHome, curator of Startup Digest, organizer of Startup Spouses and a contributor for Silicon Prairie News. For more on Jackson, see the note that follows this post.
The sort of interaction facilitated by events like Big Omaha (above) isn’t always easy to come by, especially for the spouses of people involved in startups. That’s why Willis Jackson believes Startup Spouses is so valuable.
When I first started out on my entrepreneurial journey, it was almost impossible to find people to talk to. I spent three to five hours a night combing through Google search results for three consecutive weeks because I was determined to get connected with people that could understand what I was going through. At the end of my search, the only event that seemed like a good fit for me was KC Roundtable, which at the time had a website with a big SQL error dump in the main frame of the page. I wasn’t sure if it was an active group, but I didn’t have any other options. I reached out to them and it turned out to be a great thing for me, but more on that in a minute.
Fortunately these days it is much easier to get connected if you are just starting out. We are starting to see groups form that allow people who are further along to push themselves and one another. The great people I know help to make sure that StartupDigest is full of events, Silicon Praire News helps to expose people doing awesome things, and we have gotten to the point that talking about the strength of our community and the connections between people in it has some real value. Still, I feel like we can do much more.
Dealing with the transition from the corporate world to the startup lifestyle is an emotional process on its own. However, when you add in a spouse, having to deleverage, and a family that doesn’t understand, trying to keep things together becomes even more stressful. The thing that has kept me coming back to KC Roundtable is the overwhelming sense that I finally have a place to vent my frustrations where people could realistically empathise with me. Discovering that I wanted to start a company but being trapped in a corporate job was a tough life to live, and commiserating with a group of my peers really helped to take the edge off. Of course, the group has more benefits than just that, but that was the most important thing for me.
Anyone that has had to make this transition will tell you the stress on your significant other, spouse, life partner, girlfriend or boyfriend can be as bad if not worse than it is on the startup person. My wife is risk averse. She liked owning a house. She has had to place enormous faith in me to feel comfortable with where we are today, but some days it is really hard on her. I want her to have a place where she can get the same feeling that KC Roundtable gave to me: that there are people out there that have done this before, they ended up OK and they can understand her when she needs to vent.
“I want her to have a place where she can (see) … that there are people out there that have done this before, they ended up OK and they can understand her when she needs to vent.”
That isn’t the entire story though. Our community has grown in size, but I believe we need to improve the strength of our bonds between one another. The benefits to doing so are many, including growing to the point where our community is self-sustaining. I want the community to help identify me as a person. One of the best benefits that we can provide to ourselves is to build in a support structure for our families. This unique benefit would allow us to better retain our best entrepreneurs, technologists and creatives. And perhaps most importantly, it is an opportunity for us to give something back to the people that support us the most.
The first Startup Spouses event is taking place in Kansas City on Feb. 16 at Red Nova Labs. You can find out more about Startup Spouses on Meetup. Get involved in the community discussion in the Startup KC Facebook group or by following the #startupkc conversation on Twitter.
Image credit: Big Omaha photo by Malone and Company. Photo of Jackson by Malone and Company.
About the author: Willis Jackson, a regular contributor to Silicon Prairie News, is the founder of ShownHome, a startup building software to save real estate agents time by making it easier to schedule showings, providing accurate showing recommendations for buyer agents and identifying truly comparable homes for seller agents.
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