We were fortunate enough to have a recent graduate come back to give a guest lecture on her ventures in a tech start up environment. Although my startup may seem unrelated to her technology company called Profile Passer, her stories and experiences provided me with insight on how to not just survive in a startup environment, but to thrive.

Her tech company deals with struggles in the college sports recruitment industry, more specifically soccer. She was a collegiate soccer player and had known many people that had the potential to play, but the recruitment system had failed them. How does this relate to animal farming in Rwanda? She made it very clear that you must know the problem you are trying to solve, but more importantly be passionate about the problem and fully invest yourself into the solution. She later went on to explain the feeling of getting her first player recruited through her company. She said all of her work was worth it just to change one person’s future. This story is relevant to anyone in a startup because we are allowed to celebrate the seemingly small wins. If I can employ one person through this project and allow them to send their children to school, it would be a huge success in my eyes.

Sam did not only talk about the highs, she talked about the lows too. She became burnt out after putting in countless hours into her work and dropped the project for a while. Although this took her years to reach the point of almost breaking, it really resonated with me because it was hard throughout this school year to stay on top of the work for Karenge as well as my other studies. At some points over the course of the semester, it felt as though I should give up because the work did not seem rewarding because we weren’t making any impact yet because we were still in startup phases. These highs and lows come often especially when you discover that you made one error in your financials and spend hours trying to correct it.

Sam’s lecture was a huge reality check. The work of an entrepreneur is not easy in the slightest way. Many think it’s great to be an entrepreneur, you get to make your own hours and don’t have a boss. It is quite the opposite, you are usually up earlier than everyone else and go to bed later than everyone else working toward your goals. Also, you are just not your own boss, you are your own everything. You have to do all the work, even the work that you least enjoy and it is not always as rewarding as you would think. Sam Weber’s lecture on her startup experience gave me a new perspective on what it truly meant to be an entrepreneur. Solving problems you are passionate about and not being afraid to put in the extra time and effort to solve it.