Business is Personal: The Story of PaLaCart

Freedom Tower - Aerial Shot
Starting a company is the hardest thing you’ll ever do.
— Ron Conway

A few weeks ago, we launched PaLaCart to a small group of friends and family to test the product and get some feedback. 

Thankfully, these select group of people have been extremely patient and for that, as a start-up founder, I am grateful. 

The journey till this point has been an incredibly unique one - a story that captures talent, vision and determination. But more than anything - it is a human story. A story about founders, investors, advisors, engineers, marketers and a whole lot more. It's a story about how you realize a dream without giving up. 

A friend of mine sent me an email not too long ago and at the bottom of his email was the following quote. It's one that reminds me every single day - that entrepreneurship is more personal than any other job in the world. 

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
— Calvin Coolidge

The trade press largely focuses on stories that show a very one-sided view of startup life: venture capital funding, acquisition, growth, etc. 

But for every one of those companies - it doesn't show the level of effort it goes into building those companies. The good. The bad. The ugly. But more importantly, the personal. This story is about people that have helped build PaLaCart. And it's a story of those people that have always had our back - regardless of circumstance. 

The first investor in PaLaCart is my brother - a 22-year old at the time who wrote over a significant check. Our most recent investor is a friend of the family for nearly 2 decades. These investors don't necessarily invest in the idea, but more so than the people. 

And they're not unique. Yes, they're investing because they know us and trust us to do the right thing. That's why every VC fund has the same criteria - invest in the people, then the idea and finally the execution. 

Money aside, there are significantly more criteria to running a company - it requires dedication, passion and more importantly the need to succeed in order to actually succeed. 

PaLaCart - even prior to product launch - has gone through a significant amount of ups and a considerable amount of lows. When we started on the path to unify the shopping experience across the web, we didn't realize we needed specific licenses from Visa, MasterCard, American Express, etc. We didn't know that retailers don't have technical teams to integrate a set of complicated APIs to make this vision work. Yet, we worked through all of it and delivered. 

The first retailer on PaLaCart is a brand that has been around for a long time. They are highly visible in the community, they are experts and specialists in what they do. When we had some QA issues, instead of calling us out and asking us to not be a part of PaLaCart, they helped us diagnose a platform level issue. 

Convincing retailers to sign-on with PaLaCart is a unique challenge - it's a different way to shop and conduct transactions. Far easier and yet at the same time, far advanced. Without the first few retailers - all personal relationships - PaLaCart wouldn't be doing transactions or earning revenue today.  

We launched PaLaCart on an Indian holiday - Diwali. The PaLaCart engineering team is in India. When we had a critical error in a situation we had not tested earlier, they woke up in the middle of the night - went to the office - fixed it and then went back to celebrating the holiday with their family. 

And lastly, the support system of a startup - the friends, family and fellow founders - are absolutely essential to the success of a startup. Like most founders, I go through a lot of freak out moments - whether the situation becomes overwhelming or something falls through. But, without these people - it would be a lot harder to build a company. 

So, to those who say business isn't personal - I ask them to speak to the founder of an emerging company. Because, business is incredibly personal.