If you missed my last blog, I suggest you read it first.
Since September of last year, myself and Danen Pool have been working together on aerolands. Unless you were at YEC last month, where aerolands had a booth and showcased its technology, you've likely only heard me mention it in previous blogs.
Aerolands is an agricultural technology startup, based on 6 years of Danen's research, tinkering, and perfecting of high pressure aeroponics. If you're curious about what high pressure aeroponics is, check out this summary.
Two weeks ago, Danen and I had the opportunity to pitch the aerolands business to an investing panel, in hopes of making it into the Ag Startup Engine, a hybrid accelerator that will be located at the Iowa State Research Park. The Ag Startup Engine will provide housing, resources, mentors, and funding. It launches next month.
We set our sights on the Ag Startup Engine many months ago. I believed it was the best possible step in aerolands' future.
After leaving the meeting with the investing panel, I told Danen, "as long as they like the team, and where the technology is currently at, we should get in."
They liked that. They didn't like our business model. Failure #15,000.
Today I received the call that we didn't make it in. Failure #15,001.
In the moments after the phone call, it sunk in that directions must change in the coming weeks. Aerolands will now have to go in search of other opportunities, and I will have to go in search of more income for myself, as KinoSol and YEC will not provide income until, at best case scenario, 2017. My money runs out in just a few months.
There is a part of me that wants to shut down in moments like this. I want to crawl into bed, pull the covers up over me, and pass out. Forget about everything. But then GRATITUDE kicks in, pointing me forward.
We had an awesome opportunity in meeting and presenting to investors in the first place.
Aerolands is still in its infancy, where we are truly nimble and can change almost anything about the business.
Because I get out of my comfort zone daily, we'll find the right people to join forces with. They are out there.
I'll find income to sustain my minimalist lifestyle.
Self discipline and delayed gratification is common among the aerolands team.
We have had an awesome team member, Andy Verhasselt, since January. Andy has helped us with everything visual (aerolands logo you saw above, packaging design, and much, much more).
We have the support of dozens of friends and family.
And now, the competitive fire within me wants aerolands to succeed more than ever.
"Aerolands utilizes advanced growing technology to maximize
nutritional content, redefines the way produce is experienced, and
contributes to a cleaner tomorrow."
Success is inevitable.
I was recently visiting with one of my best friends, and the question came up, what percentage of people reach their full potential in life?
I was traveling with my mom a couple days ago, and the question came up again.
The consensus, and I'm sure a lot of you will agree, seems to be somewhere around 1% of 1%.
That would be 1 person out of every 10,000 people. There is close to 7,400,000,000 people on the planet at the time of writing this. The optimistic side of me is happy to think that almost 750,000 people could reach their full potential.
But how do we increase that number?
Here are some of my thoughts on potential:
"Everything you want is on the other side of fear." - George Addair
Fear shrinks our comfort zones, causing us to settle for less. We are often taught that safety is what to strive for in life, and safety here in the states is often felt through having a nice house, with nice transportation, and a nice nest egg. You feel safe when you're comfortable. You become comfortable when you're safe. This mentality can take you through a good, happy life. I believe that safe and comfortable can also keep you from reaching your full potential. It's hard to accomplish something extraordinary, without taking risk and stepping into unknown and new realms--whether that's new social circles, new jobs, new learning, new viewpoints, etc.
"I always had a repulsive need to be something more than human. I felt very puny as a human. I thought, "F**k that. I want to be a superhuman'" - David Bowie
I think a lot of people are born with desires to be more than just a human here on earth for a short amount of time. When you're a kid, and you say you want to be a singer, or an astronaut, or have your own island, what stops you? Usually society; everyone that gave up on their plans. It's a brutal cycle, over and over. The pressure to conform and listen, and to not be entirely different than those you go to school with, or work with, is tremendous--especially when you're younger, and taught to "respect your elders," and "wisdom comes with age." Respect people, and please realize that wisdom comes from experience. I know people in their twenties that are far wiser than people in their nineties, because they seek out more experiences, and are far more open minded.
"Being an entrepreneur is like eating glass and staring into the abyss of death." - Elon Musk
When you put it that way, who would ever want to go out and work on their business idea? Depression is a very common trait in entrepreneurship. It's because emotions can run very high and be intense while building a company. I don't think many people can argue against Elon Musk being in the process of reaching his full potential. He's repeatedly eating that glass, and he's stared (company) death in the face before. Somehow, someway, he's accepted that there are no shortcuts, and it's extremely painful, but the end result just might be worth every hard and trying moment. That is a mindset for reaching full potential.
This week, I've taken opportunities to apply these thoughts to my current ventures. To reach your full potential, you have to start right now.
I spent the earlier part of Mother's Day back in Blakesburg with my parents. I made the decision to devote my evening to working on aerolands in Fairfield. Danen and I had just received word that we would be presenting to a panel on Thursday (May 12), in hopes of making it into the Ag Startup Engine, a hybrid Ag tech accelerator that is launching in Ames, capable of providing support for 6-12 months. We have a BIG vision for aerolands, with the focus on providing our aeroponically grown produce to grocery stores and restaurants all over, beginning in Iowa. It is terrifying to think of what steps we need to take, and the pressure that is on us in order to accomplish something of this scale, capable of reshaping an industry. Thankfully we're crazy enough and willing to attempt it.
On Tuesday I returned to Ames and jumped right back into progress with KinoSol, I spent some time reaching out for feedback on Young Entrepreneur Convention (YEC), and completing the Ag Startup Engine application by 3 am Wednesday morning. By time I fell asleep, I was able to rest for 80 minutes before having to wake up and prepare for a trip to Iowa City, where KinoSol was able to present at 1 Million Cups.
1 Million Cups Iowa City was great, and I've accepted that to reach full potential, many, many hours of sleep will be sacrificed. A BIG thank you goes to Ella for driving there and back.
Once we were back in Ames, it was a busy Wednesday afternoon. Startup Ames organized its first IdeaFlow event, where entrepreneurs, community builders, startup enthusiasts, and wisdom seekers made their way to Torrent Brewery for a pint and networking. I was lacking sleep, and obsessing over the aerolands presentation that would happen the next day, but networking had to be done. There was a great turnout, with a lot of new faces, and I'm happy to have been able to take part in the first IdeaFlow event. Wednesday night was focused on the aerolands presentation, not sleep.
Thursday morning greeted me at just after 8 am, but I didn't get out of bed for over an hour. It felt great. By noon, Danen had made it to Ames, and we were off to present to the panel that will decide if aerolands is a good fit for the first Ag Startup Engine cohort. Our presentation went well, as we were right at 10 minutes, and I didn't majorly mess anything up. The questions were great, and Danen handled his answers like a man who has worked on this idea, and did his research, for many years. I'd guess right around 6 years if we're counting. My anxiety always peaks before any sort of presentation, and this presentation carried 9 months' worth of progress with it. Now, as I type this, I only have to deal with the "what if" depression, while we wait to hear if we're accepted.
This morning I'm off to meet with Andrew, fellow co-founder of YEC, to talk about strategies and direction in YEC marketing. We learned an incredible amount of what it takes to run a large, unique event, when we hosted YEC in Des Moines on April 22nd and 23rd. The entire team is happy with the results, and we've received positive feedback every single day since YEC ended. By creating this entrepreneurial movement, we created a support system for many fellow glass eaters, and aspiring glass eaters.
After the meeting with Andrew, the KinoSol team will be off to Des Moines for filming. Chris Lo (also a YEC co-founder), owner of Situasian Films, will be helping us create short marketing videos that we'll be releasing over the coming months, to showcase why each one of us believes in KinoSol's mission, what KinoSol is accomplishing, and how we're helping families all over the world to have more food, better nutrition, and a better way of life. I often fear not being able to sell KinoSol units, but we keep moving forward, and we just reached double digits in sales.
To keep up with every venture, it puts my body through a lot of mental and physical stamina challenges. But what's better than these challenges? A Gladiator Assault Challenge! Myself and Mikayla are in the 9:40 am flight tomorrow morning. While we haven't trained nearly enough, the 7ish miles and a couple dozen obstacles are only going to require a good mindset. Just knowing the entire 2 to 3 hours it takes us to complete the challenge will be spent outside our comfort zones has my adrenaline building. It will be a great experience, although my body will disagree during, and likely the days following.
Saturday night will entail a nice screening of the new Star Wars in Jack Trice Stadium, but not before I get a little more work done. Come Sunday morning, I'm sure I'll drag my sore self out of bed and straight over to my standing desk, where the ventures await digitally, along with the fear of not knowing, a pile of glass, and the abyss.
F**k it. I'm a superhuman, working on reaching my full potential.
I dropped out of Iowa State today.
What that means for Iowa State is that I'm not returning in the fall to finish my ~30 credits for another bachelor's.
What that means for me is that I can now focus 100% of my attention to KinoSol, AeroLands (unveiled soon), Young Entrepreneur Convention, and an entrepreneurial book project that I'm passionate about (unveiled later).
I am, at the core, an OPPORTUNIST. That's the only title I've ever fully enjoyed.
Life is too short to finish reading that book you're not enjoying, or to finish that movie you're not enjoying, or to stick with that job you're not enjoying.
I'm thankful for the time I had back at Iowa State. I didn't go piles of money deeper into debt, thanks to employment and scholarships. I was able to add close to 150 new friends from 14 different countries. And none of my current ventures would exist without the past 20 months worth of experiences. But I stopped enjoying classes, so I'm taking the opportunity to leave.
If you think I'm making a bad decision in dropping out, that's okay. I am not a conformist.
To the peer that told me my writing style couldn't make its way into scholarly articles, THANK GOD. I took that as a compliment.
In pursuit of opportunities over the next year(s), and having made no money from any of my startups (yet), this will be an interesting ride. I'll try to blog more frequently, but for now, here's what I'll be up to.
KinoSol has made its way into the CYstarters summer accelerator program, where we'll have housing, resources, and funding, from May 23rd through July 29th.
AeroLands is positioning itself for an opportunity to make it in an Ag tech accelerator. If this happens, I give us 15 months until we're selling produce in Hy-Vees and other grocery stores.
Young Entrepreneur Convention 2017 planning will kick off by August. I'm looking forward to finding a couple of interns who are passionate about content creation and social media marketing to help bring everything together. We have BIG plans for 2017.
I'm optimistic that by the end of this year, there will be a completed draft of the book I'm helping work on.
Outside of personal startup and venture land, I'll be progressing in:
I haven't taken a full day off since Christmas Day. I wake up every single day, excited for every single one of my opportunities. How do I keep my productivity high? Gary Vee has the same answer I do, here.
Count your blessings. Get to work. Peace.
STARTUPS - TRAVEL - EXPERIENCES