After having initial success with our startup, we ran into issues balancing our academic life (we were PhD students) with our startup life. We became overly concerned that these entanglements would be messy and we wanted to created a crystal clear separation between our academic life and our separate efforts in building our startup.
One of the toughest decisions we made was to reject the stipends and tuition payments that are standard for PhD students in engineering programs. Across the four of us PhD students, this meant that we incurred roughly $100k in lost wages and tuition expenses. We had to pay for those from the cash that we otherwise could have used to fund our early business.
It was a tough decision we made and I’m still surprised we survived through that rough patch. $100k is a lot to lose for first time bootstrapped entrepreneurs. It meant less marketing, less resources for building our product, and greater pressure to fill the financial hole.
What tough decisions have you had to make in the early days of your startup?