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Another piece about the why

Recently, we have been working with our esteemed coach Rob Rao on the why. He kept on asking us: why? Why do you come to this country? Why do you not like being a lawyer? Why do you work on wearable devices? Why do you enjoy working at hyper-growth startups? Why do you enjoy procurement? And the ultimate question: Why do you choose to leave everything to start your own startup, especially alongside your co-founder?

He cautioned us that this introspective journey would be painful. It was. But for me, this reflective exercise proved immensely therapeutic. No one ever asked us this. The VCs want to know ARRs, ICPs, TAMs. Our customers want to see how we can solve their problems. Our team assumes that we figured everything out and we are here to motivate them. But deep down, I can’t help but continue to think about all these questions: why?

I once wrote a piece about why I wanted to do a startup. All the reasons remain true. Just like what Steve said, it’s all about connecting the dots. Three tumultuous years and many near-death experiences later (we are still trying to survive), I want to dig deeper about the why.

1. Growth and curiosity.

So, back in China, we were both good students and could have stayed put in our own country, but for us, that’s not enough. We want to grow some more. Explore the world. See what’s out there. What’s a better place than coming to America, the land of opportunity?

Once here, we each chose our way to achieve more. For me, it was getting the most respected, highest-paying job in the shortest amount of time. Even though that turned out to be a big mistake, and I learned later to chase my passion rather than money and prestige, I take pride in what I achieved: getting into the best firms in NYC and a six-figure salary despite being a new immigrant in the country.

Then I realized, after investing many years of time, pain, and suffering into my legal career, that no amount of money can buy happiness. I decided to explore more and look for growth. So I returned to business school, pivoted my career, and came to Silicon Valley to become a procurement professional. It was fantastic. There is so much to do, so much to learn, so many areas to dive into, and so much strategy and fun.

2. Not happy with the status quo.

So that’s great. So why not stay at Apple, accumulate shares, and become a millionaire? For me, it was not sufficient. I wanted to learn more, do more, try more things. So I jumped from system-on-a-chip design software to wearable devices, to electric vehicles, and eventually to self-driving cars.

For me, it’s never about punching holes and keeping on doing what you are doing. How can we make this better? How can we execute faster? How can we take what we have learned and turn that into something that helps with the pain we have experienced?

Over the years, we have seen how companies struggled with buying things, getting contracts signed, and doing so efficiently to achieve the maximum savings on money and productivity. I have purchased beautiful, state-of-the-art software. We have seen how AI can dramatically change how people live their lives, so why not use what we have learned on something that we know a tremendous amount about? That’s ultimately why we decided to start Trusli.

3. Have an impact on something that matters.

Purpose propels us. Designing computer chips? Crucial. A wearable that actively monitors health? Groundbreaking. Electric vehicles pave the path for a greener tomorrow, and self-driving cars? They're reshaping our daily lives. And contract automation? Well, who wants to be bogged down with paperwork when there's so much more out there?

When things start to focus on trivial details that no longer have an actual impact, I lose motivation and stop caring. That’s part of my disconnect with the corporate world and its never-ending politics. I’d rather innovate, build, and affect the change.

4. Chart our own path.

Launching our startup signifies autonomy. With this newfound power comes undeniable responsibility. Guiding our company's trajectory, molding its culture, and crafting a shared vision is both challenging and invigorating. Gone are the days of trivial disputes. Our every action carries weight, and should something not align, we hold the reins to change course. The freedom to direct our destiny? Absolutely empowering.

5. Being seen. Having a voice.

Being an immigrant, female, and Asian means often you are overlooked, underestimated, underappreciated, and brushed off in corporate America. It sounds cliche, but it’s 100% true. Starting our own company is our way of saying, look, we are here, and we can do this.

Even though no one can ever shine away from bias, discrimination, and unspoken rules, at least this time, we feel that we have an actual shot to prove our merits. Do the customers love what we have built? Are they willing to eventually pay for it? This is the ultimate redemption. Let the success speak for itself. For the first time in our lives, we can boldly say, look at this, we built this, and it’s awesome.

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