March 16, 2016
So today I cried. On Commercial Street. Just round the corner from Aldgate tube station. For those of you that don’t know London – it’s a pretty public place. Especially at 5pm on a Wednesday afternoon.
Why was I crying? Not because I’m a woman and hormonal, emotional or any of that other bullshit people say to make women feel bad about having a normal human emotion.
By the way, that's not a picture of me crying. That's a picture of James Van Der Beek playing Dawson, in Dawson's Creek. A staple of any '90s teenager's televisual experience.
I cried because for a very long minute, I though my dream was dead. I thought that everything I had given up – my successful career, my home, my life in a safety blanket of predictable and basic bliss – was for all intents and purposes grinding to a terrifying halt.
Because I thought we hadn’t gotten the funding we needed.
Kate and I had worked ourselves into a twist – the numerous models and spreadsheets that accompanied every site visit to a potential premises that had come across out path – until finally, the seemingly perfect property had come onto our radar. And for the first time, we’d been accepted as tenants – as viable entrepreneurs with a business to sell. Perfect location. Perfect size. PERFECT.
So when we applied to StartUp Direct, we were nervous but hopeful. We’d heard the success stories, we knew how it could go. We had attended their free start-up seminar where the tutor had kyboshed our idea and made us feel like we were dumb for even thinking we could start a business.
Little did I know, he brought us from the blurred into the focus. Because everyone I’ve spoken to since – every potential customer, supplier, partner – has celebrated the idea of CAYA.
So why am I crying in the street?
Well, at first I’m not crying. I’m listening to one-side of a phone conversation with the ever-patient, ever-polite, ever-optimistic Kate Enright. I realise quickly that she’s speaking to our StartUp Direct application manager. A man who likes to joke with us, but sometimes I can’t help feeling if we were two unattractive nerdy guys, he might not play us so much as fools. He’d always been friendly and amiable, our meetings full of banter but today was an important day. Were all those chats of good humour and fake laughter for nothing? All I could hear was Kate’s voice in the conversation.
“Oh (dejected). Oh right. So one of us didn’t get the money...?”
ØCue me frantically trying to think how we are going to fund this venture. I can make this work if we get half the money. I will find a way.
“…Oh wait. Sorry. So neither of us got approved?...”
ØMy heart sinks as I realise I can’t find all the money we need. Not easily. There is no rich husband, uncle, grandmother, relative in the picture and the banks were not playing with us yet.
ØCue me getting very confused about all my life choices to this point
“….oh wait. What? Seriously? So we DID get the money? All of it? Really? Are you sure?" (the rest blurs into insignificance)
ØI burst into tears. I can’t handle the drama of it. And he was mean for playing with our emotions over something so important to us. But ultimately relief. For it would appear that we are in business.
Look out London. CAYA is coming to a street near you.