Episode 2: Lessons Learned from “Failure” with Josu Garcia de Albizu

Feb 21, 2023 | podcast | 0 comments

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You can find the full transcript for this episode at the bottom of this page

Founding a startup is not for the faint of heart. You’re surrounded by stressors – a fast paced environment, financial pressure, competition, and not to mention a high risk that your company will ultimately fail. Around 90% of startups fail, with 10% failing within the first year. However, no one starts a company with this in mind, and dealing with the stress of startup life coupled with a failing company, is likely to affect a founder’s mental health.

Many founders ultimately struggle to take on the role of a founder again after experiencing startup failure and burnout.

In this week’s episode of the Founders’ Fears & Failures podcast, we welcome Josu Garcia de Albizu, a second time founder who’s no stranger to the challenges of entrepreneurship. Josu shares his story of experiencing startup failure and burnout in his previous company and the lessons he learned along the way.

Join us as we dive into the story of how he bounced back from a failed company and the strategies he’s using to maintain his mental and emotional well-being as a second time founder. 

“Even if your company doesn’t make it, even if it could be considered a failure, there are so many positive things that you can take away from a situation like this. I would say that to try and fail is fine and it will definitely prepare you better for the next time.”

Josu is a seasoned product leader, originally from Spain, with more than 12 years of international experience in product management and software development. He has worked in companies such as Telefonica, Applause, and Deutsche Bahn, creating innovative products with a social impact and building cross-functional teams from scratch.

His current role is as the Chief Product Officer and co-Founder of Likeminded, a Berlin-based digital health startup that provides employees with fast, easy, and secure access to various, high-quality mental health care formats.

Josu’s first experience as a co-founder was at Wiffinity, a mobile platform that provided free WiFi to tourists, which he co-founded in 2013. His time as co-founder could be described as an “emotional rollercoaster ride” that lasted until the European Union announced the end of roaming charges in 2016, making Wi-Fi businesses less interesting for investors.

Whether or not you’ve experienced startup failure and burnout yourself, Josu’s story is a must-listen for anyone looking to navigate the journey of entrepreneurship with resilience and determination.

What You’ll Learn in this Episode:

  • How to redefine failure as a founder
  • Tips for founders who want to avoid burnout
  • The dangers of the “perfect entrepreneur” image
  • What helped Josu feel ready to return to a founder role and accept his position as a second time founder
  • What investors need to hear about founders’ mental health.

Find Josu Online:

Resources Mentioned on the Show

  • “Life can only be understood backwards, but must be lived forwards” – Søren Kierkegaard
  • List of resources to help you find a coach, therapist, or peer support If you’d like additional support for your mental and emotional well-being as a founder

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Want to connect further? Get in touch with Melissa on social media:

Want to work with Melissa?

Schedule your free discovery call HERE.

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Did you enjoy listening to this episode? Leave your review on Apple podcasts or Spotify.

Disclaimer: The Founders’ Fears & Failures is for educational, informational, and entertainment purposes only. It is not meant to be used for personal health advice and should not be construed to constitute personal or professional consultation or guidance, or to replace medical or mental health treatment. The opinions expressed by this podcast, including the podcast guests, are not meant to replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of a medical or mental health provider regarding any questions or concerns you have about your medical and/or mental health needs. If you are in crisis, please visit this website to find a list of suicide hotlines around the globe. 

Episode Transcript:

Melissa: In today’s episode we’ll be discussing the thing that no one hopes for when they become a founder – coping with the stress of a failed company. In the case of our guest it was coupled with an experience of burnout and we’ll be exploring how he dealt with these setbacks, and what helped him recover so he could return to the world of entrepreneurship as a second time founder, and what he’s doing differently this time around. 

My guest today is Josu García de Albizu. Josu is a seasoned product leader, originally from Spain, with more than 12 years of international experience in product management and software development. He has worked in companies such as Telefonica, Applause, and Deutsche Bahn, creating innovative products with a social impact and building cross-functional teams from scratch.

His current role is as the Chief Product Officer and co-Founder of Likeminded, a Berlin-based digital health startup that provides employees with fast, easy, and secure access to various, high-quality mental health care formats.

Josu’s first experience as a co-founder was at Wiffinity, a mobile platform that provided free WiFi to tourists, which he co-founded in 2013. His time as co-founder could be described as an “emotional rollercoaster ride” that lasted until the European Union announced the end of roaming charges in 2016, making Wi-Fi businesses less interesting for investors.

Josu: Now, thank you. Thank you for having me today, Melissa. I’m very happy to be here.

Melissa: So I know we’re going to be talking about a difficult issue today, you know about failed startups. So it’s a difficult issue. But I hadn’t actually realized just how high the percentages are of startups that fail 90% of startups fail. So this is an important an important story to share. So thank you, thank you for being willing to share.

Josu: No, definitely. And I think this is a very important point that we should remind ourselves, as well as founders, that many startups don’t make it.

Melissa: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I want to make sure you know, the part of this podcast, the goal is to talk about the behind the scenes stories, right, not just the shiny Silicon Valley unicorns, we want to we want to share the challenges too, not to discourage anybody, of course, but to just share the full story. Of course. So just before we launch into that story, do you want to share a little bit more about yourself? Either any, anything personal you want to share or, or about your role that you have right now, as a founder, once again, at LikeMinded?

Josu: Exactly. So I’m currently working at LikeMinded, where I am the chief product officer, and also part of the founding team. And I mean, what is LikeMinded about? LikeMinded is our mental health care company based in Berlin. And we have our data platform that provides employees with fast, secure, and personalized mental health support through group sessions, individual sessions with a psychologist, and also on demand content. And yeah, I have to say that we are doing very well at the moment. In 2021, we secured seed funding round. And now this year, or last year, already in 2022 it has been probably our best year so far. And yeah, we have new clients, like Oliver Wyman, or N26 that they have trusted, trusted us on improving their mental well being of their employees, or on having a positive impact on their productivity.

Melissa: That’s great. It’s so great to see too. I mean, I’m, as a former therapist, myself, I’m so passionate about the mission that you have there at LikeMinded. I looked at the website a bit more before our interview and was just very excited to read kind of some of that mission about the individualized part about you know, no two people are alike. I thought you had written on there. And it just it’s great to see the success that you’re having.

Josu: Yeah, no, thank you. Thank you for that. Yeah, I have to say I’m, I’m very, very happy with our mission is also one of the of the reasons that I decided to also to join the founder, the founding team of LikeMinded, and yeah, it’s a very important topic. And that’s also why I wanted to participate in the in the podcast today because I’m in this mental health industry area. And I also found it very interesting to share that with you. Also other experiences before LikeMinded.

Melissa: Yeah, yeah, exactly. So so why don’t we get started on that part of the story? This isn’t your first time as a founder, as part of a founding team. Can you tell us more about your past experience that maybe didn’t go according to plan?

Josu: Exactly. So I already co founded a first company called Wiffinity, in 2013, where I was the CTO and CEO, and Wiffinity was a mobile platform that provided free WiFi for tourists. And basically, we were enabling them to connect to 1000s of secure WiFi networks around the globe, with just one click. So we had this mission of providing free internet free WiFi for everyone traveling around the world, around the world. And yeah, as you said, probably it didn’t go at least on the business side, as we expected. We started in 2013, we basically stopped the operations and the business by the end of 2016. And probably one of the most difficult moments I had in my career, and as a founder was during this last month of Wiffinity.

Melissa: So I know from your story, too, I know that Wiffinity, it did have some time where it seemed like things were going quite well, right? It was going well, at one point?

Josu: Yeah, definitely. And I think we should be proud of what we achieved. We were able to help many people to have WiFi while while they were traveling, we read about 20k weekly active users, we were able to create a very motivated and high performing team. We had a great atmosphere, we found that or we opened offices in Madrid and in Amsterdam. We were also participants of different accelerator programs, we won some awards, we had the confidence of some investors. And yeah, no, I think we also built a great product with more than half a million WiFi hotspots in different different countries. So yeah, I think we did many, many good things. And that’s also the this feeling of the roller coaster because I think one one days are on one side. Sometimes you feel like you have achieved some milestones to get recognition you feel at the top of the world. But on the other side, many other days, you feel really powerless and stress, close to burnout. And I think in my case, coming back to this last stage of of Wiffinity these, probably these bad days were more than the good ones. And especially about something that I personally didn’t know, before I started with Wiffinity or before I had my first experience as a founder, that is that founding a company can take a huge toll on your personal life. So I will say, yeah, I had both sides, right. I had these very good moments. And then I also had these very bad moments that at that moment, I was so focused on making the company work that probably I was not sure where most of these issues or these problems I was facing. Until let’s say I reached a point that yeah, everything was was clear to me like, okay, it’s difficult to continue like that.

Melissa: Yeah, yeah. Oh, gosh, I appreciate you saying saying this so much. Because I think so many founders get into that mentality of it being a sprint instead of a marathon. Yeah. Right. And like you said, you don’t realize it until it’s potentially too late. And that’s what it sounds like you’re saying?

Josu: Yeah, exactly. I think one of our mentors told us once that a running horse never stops to drink. And then I think this is a good, good metaphor, because, yeah, I think we were so focused on making the company success that in my case, and I think probably in some other cases, we forget to stop and drink and make sure that other areas of our lives are still okay and are still there. So yeah, I think we were in this continuous sprint. And I think it’s also related to this image that we have of the perfect entrepreneur where you have no you have no limits where you I can deal with everything. And then I think I think it was also a lot about, or is also a lot about, self expectations. I think I probably had these expectations on me, before I started with Wiffinity. And then, yeah, I didn’t allow myself to stop and to drink. Because I felt it was not needed. I felt it could be also perceived as weakness. And then yeah, I think the situation was, was moving forward. But it was also moving, let’s say, to most difficult place for me on the on the personnel side, at the point that I ended up moving back to my parents home with no money, of course, breaking up with my ex girlfriend, and dealing with what I realized, now it was a poor mental health, while in parallel, you are still trying to save the company, from what in this case eventually happened, that it was the failure of the company.

Melissa  11:04

Yeah, thank you, Josu, for being so transparent about that. Right. It’s it’s definitely not the the dream that somebody has when they when they co-found a company, correct?

Josu: Yeah, definitely. Yeah. And I think you could have different goals when you start a company. But of course, normally one of these goals would be to, to make the company work, or to make the business work. And yeah, in this case, at the end as I said, it didn’t work so much that at the point that we had made this hard decision. Okay, we cannot continue. Also, because we ran out of money, the market situation was not the best for businesses related to Wi Fi, at that moment, for different reasons. But especially because we had this amazing team that we had to let them go, because, of course, we were kind of close in the operations of the company. But yeah, even though it was a really hard moment, it was also I think, the point where I started with my healing process. And I remember having a great dinner and drinks with the team. And, and then we were remembering fond memories of Wiffinity, we were thankful for having served this journey together. And, and I also felt like I was also taking weight off, and I was feeling more relaxed. And that I don’t have this, I already don’t have this responsibility anymore. So it was a hard moment. But at the same time, I felt relief, when when we reached that point.

Melissa: I think you’re bringing up such a good point, when we kind of stretch ourselves to our limits, like beyond our limits, right? In terms of our mental health or emotional capacity. We might even desire for something we’ve worked really hard for, to not work out just I think it’s human nature, like our brains just want us to take a break somehow.

Josu: Yeah, definitely. And I think now I understand it better than than then, probably back then I was not, as I said, Before, I was not allowing myself to, to, to accept that I was already burnt out of my own company. And this has been a difficult feeling or emotion to deal with as a founder. Because since your company is your baby, the, the thing that you have put so much effort for the last two years, that is also very difficult to accept that you are also tired of it and that you cannot continue like that. But of course, it’s because I did things in a way that I’m doing them differently now, right, because I also learned a lot. And that’s also the good thing of an experience like that. As I said before, of course, one of the goals of a company or a founder is to to create a successful business. And, yeah, we can say in this case, Wiffinity was a failure, because we were not able to create this business and of course, we failed to reach our vision. So of course, at that moment, I felt that we we failed to our investors, to our employees to ourselves, but now and I think maybe it takes a while until you realize this, we also had many successes, but I also share with you some of them, but also I think with this failure came this failure came with a lot of positive elements or learnings and many of them they are only visible in the long term. But I think they they are so important and they have had such a positive impact in my life after Wiffinity that I will even redefine what failure means, because or how we perceive failure. Because for me at that moment, it was a failure. And probably, if we do look at it from the technical point of view it is, but on the other hand, I think it changed my life, it changed my personality, it changed me for better. And I think it’s also something that I take it with with me, even though it took me quite a long to recover from it.

Melissa: Yeah, you know, just I have a quote that’s hanging above my desk here. And it’s that life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards. And I share it all the time with my clients when they’re going through difficult moments like you’re describing. Because when you’re in that hard moment, it’s so hard. But now your Gosh, what is it six years? Six years later from the this failed moment?

Josu: Yeah, yeah. Between six, seven, yeah.

Melissa: So you get to look back, and you get to kind of see what it means in the big picture of your story as a founder.

Josu: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And I think is, now I look at it and, of course, I have a very good memories of Wiffinity. I will say even the good memories are better than, than the bad ones. And I think it also made me a better professional, of course, because I learned a lot, I feel much better prepared, for example, to contribute to the success of LikeMinded as the CEO and co founder. But also, it made me know myself better regarding my limits. As I said before, I think I had unrealistic self expectations about myself before my Wiffinity. And now I have, I’m able to set better expectations or more realistic expectations. And I also can deal better with stress, and especially and prevent myself from, from being in the situation, again, and can establish boundaries. I’m also trying to transfer this knowledge and sharing my experience also, with my colleagues at LikeMinded. So I’m also trying to lead by example, being open about my mental state, giving each other open feedback, and also especially breaking the stigma, but not only about mental health, but also about the perfect entrepreneur.

Melissa: That sounds like such an important mission. Right to Yeah, to be more vulnerable, right? I think it’s a really powerful model that you can create as a leader.

Josu: Yeah, definitely. And that’s something that we are trying with, LikeMinded, we are also sharing this message with our clients, with the companies that we are helping to improve their mental well being as their employees. And we have found many people that they are open also to share their stories with with their team members. And, for example, that’s something that helps a lot. When you see other people that they have been at this situation, not only founders, but of course, every employee can can face these, these these kind of mental struggles. And it’s really important that yeah, there are companies like LikeMinded or podcasts like this one, that they are helping to reach this mission of breaking the stigma around mental health.

Melissa: Yeah. So it sounds like this is not only something that LikeMinded encourages its clients, it’s the companies that are working with LikeMinded to kind of create in their companies, but you actually kind of you practice what you preach at your company, and you try to show up as like vulnerable leaders as well.

Josu: Exactly and I think the the companies that are now working with us, they are companies that they are open to discuss about mental health, that the leaders and the people responsible of the people or HR departments are also very aware of the importance of mental health. And I think that yeah, we have found many, many people that they are willing to step up and share their stories with with with their team members. And I think that is to break the stigma, I think is the best thing that you can do, leading by example, sharing your story. And, yeah, we are very happy about this change that we see in the, in the society about how we perceive mental health.

Melissa: Yeah, I think we’re seeing a shift throughout society around the globe, I hope and and we’re definitely seeing it in the space of the startup ecosystem, too. Which is why I felt like it was a great time to get this podcast started and help contribute to that conversation. I do want to ask you, Josu, I think we skipped over maybe an important part of the story. When the, when you had to close the company, did you feel ready to become a founder right away again?

Josu: Well not right away, I think it took me it took me a bit of time to feel ready to become a founder again and getting involved so much in, in a new project and startup, in this case, LikeMinded. I needed some time to first be very honest, to recover financially, also to gain some energy back. And also, I wanted to use this time to learn from other founders, from other companies, a bit bigger, how they made it. And, and also, again, to be completely honest, I was even not so open to get involved again, in in a project as a founder. But I will say that, LikeMinded, that was probably one of the few companies that could have met all the requirements that I had to start again. And I think once you are a founder or do work in a startup, it’s very difficult to find this feeling of having such a big impact in a bigger company and so on. Plus, of course, LikeMinded has a very interesting, very important mission. This purpose that we have. Also we have the the support financial support from from our business angels and also from, from the VCs that they decided to, to work with us. And of course, we have our very complimentary founders team. So when when, when I received a call from Stefan, who is also one of the other co-founders we have at LikeMinded, and he talked to me about this opportunity of me joining them to, to create this founding team of LikeMinded and push for for this beautiful mission. Yeah, it took me a bit to accept it. But I have to say that probably, I was also kind of waiting for an opportunity like this to feel, again, these these beautiful emotions of, of being a co-founder of a startup. But again, yeah, I think I needed some time to recover. I also needed some time to build my self confidence again. And now I’m very happy because I also can contribute a lot with my past experience. And I also can contribute a lot with with sharing, also my story and also trying to break the stigma through LikeMinded.

Melissa: Yeah. So it sounds like you were you were very picky, right? You were picky about kind of the the company that you were going to join. And, you know, you remind me, I have clients who I’ve worked with who have had similar stories of a failed startup or experiencing burnout or some other type of struggle with their previous startup. And when we work when we start working together, sometimes they’ve already started again at another company, and they want to make sure they don’t repeat the same mistakes. But other times, they’re kind of it sounds like where you were at, where they’re doubting whether they want to put themselves kind of in that, put themselves on that emotional roller coaster again.

Josu: Yeah, because it’s a beautiful experience, but at the same time, it could be very energy draining experience. And as I said before, in my case, it took a big toll on my mental health. And I needed some time to, to recover. So I think it depends on on the case. And I think every founder probably is dealing with these situations in different ways. But at the same time, I’m sure that many people can relate to stories like like mine or other stories. And yeah, actually, before before the podcast when you when you approached me to have this discussion today, I was wondering myself, if my story was not, let’s say, bad enough to be shared. If because I also I know or we can also hear other stories that maybe they were worse than mine. But I also felt, you know, I’m sure this story that many people can also relate to, and, and something that I didn’t do when when I when I was in this difficult moment of my life. I didn’t ask for professional help, or for professional support. I was not so aware of mental health back then. I think the stigma was even bigger than that now and I didn’t even think about it. I didn’t even think about that as an option. And now I realized how much it would have helped me to have professional support back then. And probably I would have gone through the process with more tools. And probably with more knowledge to heal or to go through this at the end of the day, mourning, in a in a different way. I’m better prepared. So I was also thinking, if maybe sharing my story today could help also other people that they are facing similar situations, but they are still thinking, Yeah, but I will survive it’s not so bad. But they are now listening to my story. Maybe they even think, okay, maybe I can I can ask for professional support or I can look for other other tools that they can help me, I think I will be already already helping helping them. And I think it’s also important, I think this is also part of breaking the stigma that you don’t have to be bad enough, whatever that means, to look for help. Because professional support can help you in many different ways. And for sure, I would have had the benefit of it when when I was facing this situation.

Melissa: Yeah, I’m so glad you came on. You hadn’t shared that piece with me before. But there is no, there’s no bar here to come on the show. You don’t need to be bad enough. I think. I just want people who are willing to share the human story. Because that’s I think what isn’t shared enough? And, and you’re right, I do hope that it will help listeners, because I don’t think we need I think that part of the shift we’re seeing is that people are realizing you don’t need to have like a badge of honor of like burnout was not a badge of honor. Right? We don’t want people to burn out and then realize looking back, okay, I should have done something differently. Ideally, we want to help people proactively to take care of their mental health. So even if they’re a first time founder, they don’t run into these same same problems that you ran into, right, like working at 150%.

Josu: Exactly. Okay. And I think that there are some learnings I took that maybe I can I can share with with you, and maybe it’s helpful for other other founders or any listeners to this podcast, the first, I think it’s important to say that you are not your company. So I think your company is a very important part of your life. But there are other things that also complete you as a person. And based on my experience, I think over identification with the company will make you feel like a failure when the company doesn’t go as expected. And maybe it’s a failure of the company, or maybe there is a business issue. But it shouldn’t, it shouldn’t go with making you feeling like a failure yourself.

Melissa: What a good distinction. Yeah, sure. Can I ask, is there anything that you know, that you’re doing now, that helps you to not? Because I know, you’re so passionate, it sounds like to about LikeMinded’s mission? So I can imagine that makes it more challenging to not identify with the company? Is there anything that’s helping you though, to keep more space this time?

Josu: Yeah. I mean, I still identify a lot with the company of course. And I’m also reminding myself about some things because I sometimes I find myself also going to similar paths. But I have to say that I have, I have learned and I’m now constantly working, I will say different things, I will I will probably name maybe three things. So one is about setting up more realistic self expectations. That’s very important for me, second one will be also sharing more openly how I feel. And then other people can also help me and I also can help other people. And yeah, for me, also very important at this period of my life, also blocking time for my for my personal life. So that will be the things that I’m trying to be very strict with at the moment, but also of course, working at LikeMinded is also helpful, because I mean, at the end of the day LikeMinded is a mental health company. So the stigma in our workplace, I would like to think or I would like to say is very low, if any, and also because as a LikeMinded member of the company, I also have access as every employee to the LikeMinded platforms. So now yeah, of course, I mean, LikeMinded, that is the first customer of LikeMinded, as we say. And, of course, you see like minded already has a huge impact on the mental health of the team, on the employee satisfaction, and of course on my own mental health. It increased the productivity of the team, it increased the mental well being in general. And that’s something that of course is sort of helping me a lot. I’m participating in individual and group sessions. I’m also really learning a lot about psychology with with all the content that we have. So yeah, that will be the the main things that I’m I’m doing different now.

Melissa: That’s great. Yeah, it sounds like you’re really making your kind of mental well being a priority this time around.

Josu: Exactly. Exactly. And to lead us, that’s also our vision, making mental health a priority. Yeah, we are trying to follow, follow it.

Melissa: That’s great. I know that was there some other things that you were going to share about things for any listeners to be listening to some kind of lessons that you’ve learned and that you want people to take away?

Josu: Yeah, sure. So I think it’s also important to say, or let’s say, to reinforce the, the idea of many, many companies don’t make it as we said before, also, don’t be afraid of asking for professional support. And maybe the last thing, as I said, As I shared before, about my own experience, even if your company don’t, don’t make it, even if it could be considered a failure, there are so many positive things that you can take away from a situation like this, that I will say that to try and fail is fine. And it will definitely prepare you better for the next time.

Melissa: Yeah, yeah. So it’s kind of seeing it as part of the journey.

Josu: Exactly. And I think failure is also part of our life. And it’s part of our journey. And it’s a good moment also to learn and to grow. And I think we should take it more like this. And not focusing so much on the negative aspects of it. Even though again, I know, it’s difficult when you are in the middle of the situation. You need some time to reflect back and look at it again. And then realize how much you learn not how much you grew as a person as a professional when you face situations like this one.

Melissa: So I want to share with you about Yeah, because I do think it’s failure is an inevitable part, right. And for many people, many founders, it’s going to be an inevitable part of their their startup story. What I want, I wanted to share with you that when I announced the name of this podcast, I received a lot of feedback from people saying that it was too negative, that it’s just with the Founders’ Fears & Failures. This oh, that’s too negative. What do you feel? Like the word failure is too negative?

Josu: I think it could be perceived as negative. But I think maybe this podcast could help also to change the perception of the of the world. Because in my case, as I’ve repeated already, for quite a quite a, a couple of times. For me, the failure was something that it could come with negative connotations, of course, because you are not reaching the goals that you defined the goals that you wanted to achieve with the company. But at the same time, again, we should normalize it, because it’s part of our lives, we will all face moments where we fail. And I think we should also use the opportunity that are created with failures. Because they give you the opportunity to learn to grow, and so on. So, yeah, I think maybe then, Melissa, with this podcast, you have the opportunity to change a bit the meaning or the perception of this word.

Melissa: Yeah, that’s it. Thank you. I appreciate that. Because that’s my hope, too. Yeah, let’s redefine failure. Right. What is that? What does it mean? I have another question for you that just would be curious to hear if you have any thoughts about it? Do you think it’s important for investors to be paying attention to founders mental health?

Josu: Yeah, I think is, is important, because on one side, I’m being very pragmatic, the mental health of the founders have a huge impact on the success of the company. So um, I think having founders that they are struggling with mental health will reduce the chances of having a successful outcome is the company. And I think in general, we should take care of each other mental health also, because is, it creates a better atmosphere? And also because it makes us better as a society to take care of each other’s mental health.

Melissa: Yeah, yeah. I appreciate you saying that. Because what I’ve heard, I think, again, we’re seeing maybe a shift in the in the startup ecosystem, but I have spoken with some investors who have said, Yeah, we know it’s important, but we don’t really know what to do. And so we just kind of we don’t do anything about it right. Or, or they’ll say, like, we’re here if somebody has problem. But as you’ve talked about, right, there’s so much expectation to be kind of a Superman, or Superwoman as a founder, it’s quite a big thing to ask your founders to be that vulnerable with their investors.

Josu: Yeah, I think ther’s still stigma around it. At LikeMinded, I think we were lucky with our investors, because they are very aware of mental health. And I think I mean, at the end of the day, they are investing in a mental health company. So I think they are probably more open to this and more aware of, of this than, than other investors. And I will say, in most of the cases, or many cases, investors have been founders themselves in the past. So probably, they can also relate to the situation that the founders are going through. And they can also relate to some mental health issues that founders can, can suffer. So um, I also had the experience talking to some investors, that they were also sharing their own experiences, they were also giving you advice about putting some boundaries, about keeping some things or the personal life. So I think you can still find different type of investors as you can find different type of people in general. And I have to say that, in my case, I will consider myself lucky because also for Wiffinity and also for LikeMinded, I always had people around me, including investors, that they were very open to discuss about mental health. And also they were giving us advice about setting boundaries. So we don’t burn out.

Melissa: Yeah, that’s so great. I’m glad to hear that. Yeah. throughout the journey, you did have some of that? It sounds like some of it maybe took some took longer to sink in, right? Maybe some of those those the mentoring at Wiffinity? I think it’s difficult. I think, you know, with this podcast, I want to share people’s stories I want people to to learn, so they can proactively care take care of themselves. I think sometimes we just need to also as humans go through difficult things before we really learn the importance.

Josu: Yeah, exactly. And I think as I said before, also, in this case, for me, it helped a lot sharing the story with other people that they have been there before. And that’s something maybe it’s important to mention that finding people that they have been in the same situation, or they are facing the same situation and sharing experiences, it will also help a lot.

Melissa: Yeah, yeah, I think I have a psychologist who specializes in loneliness who is going to be here on the podcast soon. And we are going to talk all about that about the importance of not only finding people who can under who not only finding other people, so you don’t feel alone, but finding people who really get you, right? Those meaningful connections of people who have been there before or who are going through the same thing. Because it’s a roller coaster, it’s difficult. And if you’re going on it all alone, it’s even more challenging.

Josu: Yeah. And you can find people who has been there before, for example, among your investors, and also maybe relevant to mention, in LikeMinded we have also these group sessions, that some of them, they also exchange sessions, where you can exchange experiences with people that they they are facing the same issues that you are facing at the moment, for example.

Melissa: That’s fantastic. And just to just to clarify is LikeMinded it’s, is it available for individuals as well? Or is it do you have to be does your company need to purchase it?

Josu: So at the moment, we only offer it to companies. So you will have access to LikeMinded platform as an employee of one of our company clients.

Melissa: Yeah, great. Joshua, I do have a question. I’m asking all the guests that come on. What advice would you have for your younger self like at the start of your entrepreneur, startup journey?

Josu: Yeah, that’s a very, very good question. So I will say probably a bit, but to be honest, not so much. Because I think the person I am now it’s also because I went through all these learnings and through this journey. That maybe I will tell myself about – don’t create too high expectations on yourself as an entrepreneur. Don’t believe everything that you read and hear about other people experiences, and try to be gentle to yourself, especially in the difficult moments. But apart from that, I wouldn’t tell me so much. Because otherwise, maybe I wouldn’t have started Wiffinity/ Because if I knew what I know, now, back then I wouldn’t have done it. But at the same time, I’m super happy that I did it. Even though I went through this difficult moment, probably, I will have told me some tips to go through this difficult moment, I would have told me maybe look for professional support. I would have told me some of the things I said before. But yeah, I think I wouldn’t I wouldn’t change the past. Because it also made me what I am today.

Melissa: Yeah, yeah. I think that’s a great a great perspective. Right that to, you’re really appreciative of the experience. And also, those are some great tips for anybody who’s listening who doesn’t want to go through that whole experience again, although I hear what you’re saying, right? That part of it is, you know, you it’s, it’s part of the learning, you just you have to go through it. And like you said, you, you wouldn’t want to show yourself a crystal ball of everything that happened in your future. And I think that’s an important message too, is that when you’re starting your, your journey as an entrepreneur, there’s no way to know everything that lies ahead.

Josu: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. There, it’s really difficult to foresee the future, especially as a founder. That’s also part of the of the joy of being a founder, this lack of certainty in your professional life. So yeah, but at the same time, I think it’s also important to have some stability on your personal life, and professional life. So I think the goal, or my goal now is to make them both compatible. Where I still work hard, I still feel involved, I still identified myself with the company, but I don’t go over the limits that I already know I have. And I keep this mental health stability that is also needed to succeed.

Melissa: Yeah, yeah. I think it’s great. Yeah, it’s, I think a balance is like a juggling act. So it’s, I think it’s a lot of things that you’re juggling, right to find that balance. It’s an art. It’s an art that I think it sounds like you’ve worked really hard to get to as a founder. And I hope that a lot of the people listening will get inspired to get there themselves.

Josu: Yeah, I think it also comes with experience. But it’s difficult. Of course, it’s difficult that I’m also working on myself. At LikeMinded we are also working on our culture. I think we have many positive things. But of course, there’s always room for improvement for every person for every company. And that’s also exciting, right?

Melissa: Yeah, yeah, exactly. Lots of opportunities and room for growth as a company and as a as a founder yourself. I’m curious, just you, is there anything more that you would want to share with our listeners before we wrap up the show today?

Josu: No, no, maybe only share that maybe a few years ago, I wouldn’t have felt so comfortable talking to you about this story and opening up and sharing with other people that they are listening to this podcast. So I think I want to thank you again for this opportunity, because probably sort of helping me to close even more this this moment of my life and, and being able to talk about it. It also makes me feel better about it. And so for me, that’s probably the main point, talking about these kinds of situations, being open about how we feel, I think is the key to to have a better mental health in general.

Melissa: Wonderful. Jesu. Yeah. And you know what, I also hear you saying to that, if you’re going through a difficult time right now, and you don’t feel ready to share your story on a podcast, that’s okay. Because it might take a few years before you feel ready to share at that level.

Josu: Yeah, I think that’s right.

Melissa: Yeah. We’ll just see if people want to know more about like, find it and get in touch with you. What’s the best way for them to find you?

Josu: Yeah, they can go to our website, Likeminded.care. And they will find all the information there. They can also send me a message in LinkedIn. Also connect in LinkedIn. And I will be open to to have more discussions about mental health, about LikeMinded, about startups. So please don’t feel shy if you have any questions or any comments for me.

Melissa: Wonderful, and I’ll include the links to your LinkedIn and the links to that LikeMinded website in the show notes too, so it’ll be easy for people to access. Thank you again, Josu for coming on the show. It’s really been a wonderful conversation. I appreciate you, being so vulnerable and sharing your story and helping us redefine failure.

Josu: Thank you very much, Melissa, and all the best with the podcast.

Melissa: Thank you. Failure is an inevitable part of startup life. Even if your company ultimately succeeds, you’re still bound to experience setbacks and disappointments along the way.

Although these moments can be painful, as Josu mentioned in the episode they’re also often an opportunity for learning and growth. 

That being said, you don’t need to go through these lows all alone. Reach out to a friend or loved one, form a peer support group with other founders, or find professional support. I have a list of resources available on my website at melissaparks.com that can help if you’re interested in finding a therapist or coach to work with. 

Thanks for tuning in to this week’s episode. I hope you’ve enjoyed it and if you did, please leave a review on Apple podcasts and Spotify. And please share this episode with others who you think might be interested. 

See you next week! 

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HI I’M MELISSA

I'm a therapist-turned-coach who loves working with clients around the world! I work with the globally mobile community to support them through transitions as well as entrepreneurs who need support navigating the rollercoaster of entrepreneur life.

I'm also the co-founder of the Location Independent Therapists (LIT) Community, a mom, a self-compassion advocate, and an aspiring author.

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