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First, let me make a disclaimer: what you are about to read is not actually the truth; it is my truth, the one I use to tell myself and the one I want to share with you. Before you judge me, keep in mind that people always do what they do for a reason. And these were mine.
Looking back to the very beginning, the last two years of my life were the most difficult ones. To be clear: they were the most difficult; but not the worst. Thinking about that, I remembered Gonçalo Reis, a guy that once told me that “if it’s difficult, than that is because it is definitely worth it”.
After all this time, I realized that maybe for stubbornness or even stupidity, we always chose the hardest way. In other words, we didn’t want to do what everyone does. We wanted to be different, to look smart, sweat our t-shirts and prove that everything we had imagined or believed was possible.
But how would we do that? And to whom would we wanted to prove it? Well, we still don’t have a final answer for the first question, but regarding the second one, we know we wanted to prove ourselves that we were capable of doing things differently. And, yes, we also wanted to prove it to the market.
Since the very beginning, we weren’t like everyone else. We weren’t money makers or people looking for huge businesses. Instead, we were looking for the opportunity to become meaning makers, relationship builders and maybe little world changers. Yes, there’s still a lot to improve but, after all that time, I believe that we accomplished our goal. At least, a part of it – according to my truth.
The story of an arrogant kid
Imagine a 26-years old kid with his colorful sneakers, entering in the companies’ registry office. He had a total of 360 euros, split in notes of five and ten. When the registry guy asked which was his company name, he proudly answered “Angry Ventures”. Guess what? No one on that registry office knew how to write it! Besides being very attractive (I’m kidding!), that kid was myself and, hell, he was an arrogant bastard!
Back in 2014, I decided to create Angry Ventures because I didn’t want to answer to anyone. For as arrogant as it might sound, that was probably the best decision I ever made. Why? Because I didn’t (and I still don’t) want to make things that don’t fulfill me or do not bring me something. I also didn’t want to be chained to a challenge, one that sucked the energy out of me in trade for nothing more than money.
Before I took the final decision, I asked for feedback and I count on my fingers those who actually encouraged me to create a business. I’m not certain right now, but I don’t remember really hearing a “go ahead” from someone who had already been on the same path. “Be careful”, they said. Keep your attention on this and that. The finances. The bills. “Do you really want to do this? Aren’t you too young for that?”
Angry Ventures: products and sustainability
I created Angry Ventures supported on the concept of business builders. A kind of incubator of products that are quickly launched, placed and validated by the market itself. We adopted the model of creating B2B products and so were born our first three “sons”: Snackcat, Epicant, and MySkool. The first two were a total flop. MySkool managed to pay itself and still generates some regular cash flow. Yep, we weren’t that successful.
Shortly after the company’s creation, I noticed that there was only one way for us, and that way was making things differently. Once again, maybe for stubbornness or arrogance, I didn’t want to open up Angry Ventures to external investment. In my opinion, if the company does not grow by itself, that means that the company isn’t worth the investment. In my point of view, investment only works for scale and speed; it doesn’t add any core value.
I thought then that if I wanted to create our own products, I would have to make enough money first in order to guarantee the company’s sustainability. In other words, I didn’t want to start bleeding financially. Yes, I still believe that meaning comes before money, but I also believe that businesses and people do not give their best if they are under pressure or if they have to make just enough money to pay their bills.
Doubts, lessons and… more money.
After two years of Angry Ventures, we are still closed to external investment. More than once, we were tempted by third parties, and I’m glad about the fact that there are people who trust so much on what we do, that they are willing to invest. But, that is still not our way.
And yes, things didn’t go always well. Quite on the contrary. Sometimes, I even think “what the fock am I doing?”.
Fortunately, we always managed to bring to our side people with an enormous capacity, attitude and talent, which was hugely important for our growth. We also managed to bring partners that saw value in what we could create and wanted to be part of something different.
Since our first day, we have learned a lot. We have immensely iterated ourselves. And we have grown.
Some say that 90% of new businesses do not pass the first two years of life. I like to look at this statistic not as an end, but as a lesson that we must continue to work and create meaning and value for people. Money? The money will always be the consequence.