A Star is Born

We're in public beta — and other updates!

Hello, and welcome back to Building with Starcycle. I’m your host, Jaclyn.

Before we begin, make sure you smash that like button, hit subscribe, and turn on notifications… [laugh track]

Anyway, onto the good stuff —

Starcycle has officially entered public beta! Our first feature, our AI business planner, is now live. Signups are now open on our website, or you can click this lil button here ↘

It’s been a long journey to get here, and it’s still only just the beginning.

Here are some ways in which you can immediately support:
📈 Sign up for an account and try out Starcycle — and fill out the user survey once you’re done (I read and reply to every single one)
💌 Share this email with your friends, or invite them to try Starcycle
👋 Follow us around the Internet! Social links are helpfully linked at the footer of this email, or you can find us everywhere as @starcycleai

Alright, now onto the rest of the email. Today, I’ll be talking about:
💡 why people start businesses — and why I believe Starcycle can help
💻 some of the apps in my toolkit that helped me get to where I am right now

Let’s begin, shall we?

Why do people start businesses?

It’s an evergreen question, asked and answered by everyone from local business bureaus and startup accelerators to government grants and grassroots organizations.

While I’ve read my fair share of think pieces and had hundreds or thousands of hours of conversations with founders from all walks of life, I wanted to cast my net even wider.

So I asked the Starcycle community. Every user, upon signup (beta or waitlist), is asked: Why do you want to start a business?

Across several hundred answers, they tend to sort themselves somewhat neatly into 3 buckets, so I’ve summarized them below (featuring some navel-gazing responses from yours truly):

1. I want to have impact / I want to change the world.

This is an obvious one that I think many of us can relate to. Everyone is born with big dreams and aspirations; we all want to do something that outlives us, that flies in the face of our mortality. (Too much?)

I’ll be honest, this is something I gravitate towards as well. Of course I’d want to make a positive impact with Starcycle and any and all other projects and initiatives I create, lead, or otherwise am a part of. Who wouldn’t? We’re often told that the best way to create the change we want to see in the world is to do it ourselves.

The thing I love the most about this reason is that impact can happen at every single possible level. You don’t need to be sending nanobots into space or curing 65 kinds of cancer to make an impact. You can change the trajectory of someone’s day by brewing them the perfect cup of coffee, or help someone ace that job interview through mentorship, or lift up community voices through dedicated event spaces.

Isn’t that just so neat?

Relatable community answer: “I want [to break the] Matrix”

:)

2. I want to be independent / I want to be my own boss.

This is also a common refrain: The feeling of being in control of your own destiny. No more eye-rolling when your out-of-touch boss asks something that makes you question every single life decision you’ve had up to that point? Tempting. Intoxicating.

However, to me, this one comes with a giant asterisk that is also a flashing neon sign. Yes, you’ll be your own boss in the sense that you can now dictate exactly how you want to do something. But the terms and conditions of that engagement also state that in many ways, the world is now your boss.

You don’t like the taste of oat milk and therefore don’t want it served with your coffee? Sure, but customers might go somewhere that has oat milk instead. You said you needed 4 weeks to deliver that sample, but your supplier had a delay on their end and now it’s been 6 weeks? Eeek, now everyone in the equation is mad at you. Maybe it wasn’t your fault that one of the supplier's trucks had issues, but to the customer who ordered that sample, it is your problem, because now they have an angry boss. So on and so forth.

That being said, it is great to be able to decide your terms of engagement, especially when it comes to client relationships. Being able to say, I don’t work with folks who verbally berate my team over email, and act on it, is nice*.

With great power comes great responsibility, though. Ask yourself: Am I ready to be responsible for everything that happens to your business? Am I okay with the final line of defense, the point where the buck stops?

Relatable community answer: [I want] “to stop working for annoying bosses and annoy myself instead!”

Look at me, I’m the boss now… wait, no, u

*Ask me how I know. Or don’t.

3. I want to be financially independent / I want to be rich.

This is the one that is actually probably the most interesting to me, because it clearly reflects the alluring story that has been sold to countless entrepreneurs worldwide.

There is no question that founding businesses, especially startups, can very much be a high risk-high reward situation. And if you land in the high reward bucket, then it’s probably pretty sweet**. But that’s a big if.

Of course, we need to caveat that what being rich actually means heavily depends on person to person. For some folks, being rich means a step up from where they are currently. For others, being rich means nothing short of making it onto the Forbes billionaires list. It gets even more nuanced with being financially independent.

No one can deny that entrepreneurship can be extremely rewarding (emotionally, financially, and otherwise), and I encourage everyone who is able to take that leap. However, it does come with a lot of risks and not a lot of guarantees, and I’d be remiss to not mention that again.

Relatable community answer: [I am] “trying to make a million dollars by the end of the year”

I wish for every Starcycle user to reach Cinco Leches.

I do have to say, though, that I resonate with every single one of these reasons. While none of them may singlehandedly get you to where you want to be on your founding journey (and if I may say so — probably also shouldn’t be the sole reason why you found a company/start a business; you’ll burn yourself out, potentially make morally questionable decisions just to boost your bottom line, etc.), they all serve their purpose in fueling you in different parts of your journey.

**I’ll report back if/when I get there.

So what does any of this have to do with Starcycle?

To me, technology like AI — like Starcycle — is an amplifier.

I fundamentally believe that everyone is born with creativity, drive, and ambition — but opportunity is not always equal, nor is it necessarily equitable. Starcycle aims to empower folks to build their future, with scalability and personalization at the very forefront, hoping to change their lives in the same way that founding companies has changed mine.

Like that famous saying that is often questionably attributed to Albert Einstein, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” — I founded Starcycle to help amplify everyone’s genius. We’ll try and help you climb that tree. (Or help you find the right river or pond to swim in!)

To get real technical for a second, I typically categorize Starcycle under SMB enablement software. (That’s the industry category I base all of my growth and funding calculations on.)

In reality, though? I’d say Starcycle is dream enablement.

And that’s what keeps me going every day.

My journey so far — and the apps I’ve used

I am a firm believer that no one is self made. (I actually recorded a whole podcast episode on this topic. Coming soon!)

In the spirit of building a Squirtle squad village, I wanted to spotlight two apps that have been instrumental to me building Starcycle along the way. None of this is sponsored; just want to show some love!

1. Plot

What it is: A visual planning tool designed for marketers

What I’ve been using it for: Planning user lifecycle flows, email notification trigger flows,

Why I love it: I’m a very process and procedure-oriented person, so I love my flowcharts, color-coded spreadsheets, and documentation. While Plot isn’t exactly optimized for UX design (it’s really meant for planning marketing campaigns), what I really love is its versatility and ease of setup. The planning canvases are clean and intuitive, and its collaboration tools already make it easy to scale. Plus, as a marketer and brand builder at heart, I love that Plot has a wide range of tools to help you plan campaigns. It’s easy to lose track of your marketing messaging, especially when it’s across touchpoints that aren’t so easy to keep track of together, like your abandoned-cart emails vs upcoming sales posts on Instagram — but don’t underestimate the outsized impact cohesive messaging can have. I’m excited to continue using Plot as the comms spine of Starcycle that will keep guiding our growth and development.

2. Clay

What it is: An AI-powered personal CRM

What I’ve been using it for: Keeping track of and organizing my connections across all of my personal and professional relationships

Why I love it: A huge part of the founding journey is building the village you do it with. I’m extremely grateful for the incredible people I’ve gotten to know and work with over many year, and was never able to find any tool that let me sift through these precious connections and friendships in the same thoughtful way in which I got to know them — until Clay came along. I love that you can sync almost everyone you’ve gotten to know over the years (across Facebook, LinkedIn, emails…), organize them into different buckets, and leave reminders and notes about each person for yourself the next time you catch up. I appreciate that it feels very rooted in human connection and not necessarily in trying to find someone in your network to make a sale. I know this will be one of my not-so-secret weapons in my toolbox as I continue to grow — myself, but also Starcycle.

Got other recommendations of apps you think I should check out? Tried anything cool recently? Let me know by replying to this email.

Alright, that’s it for this time around. Admittedly it is more challenging than I thought to write these more regularly during this high intensity phase of building something new, but I always have a lot of fun writing these and I hope you enjoy them too.

Just like last time, I’m going to sign off with some intentions…

By the next time you hear from me:

  1. We will have 5,000 businesses on Starcycle;

  2. I’ll have closed a round backed by folks equally excited to support a new generation of entrepreneurs;

  3. A new Pokémon game in the gameplay style of Legends: Arceus will have been announced. (Let me have this one, ok?)

And now, I bid you all adieu.

Till next time,
Jaclyn 💫