A journey to remember

Posts Tagged ‘The Start-up Story

Last week, I posted an Instagram ad for 7 days period. It was the sixth ad I posted on Instagram and it was the first one got rejected. It was really confusing to me. That ad had been previously approved and I received many clicks for 2 or 3 days until it was suddenly disapproved. The content in that rejected ad was pretty much the same with 5 others prior ads I posted; the major difference was the targeted audience (it was the first time I aimed Instagram users outside Indonesia).

There was a note on my Instagram apps saying that my ad was not approved because the destination URL was not viewable or functioning properly.

There I wondered what they referred as “destination URL”. When I created my ads (six of them), the destinations were always my Instagram business profile. If they said the destination URL was not functioning properly, didn’t it mean they had a problem with their own web?

I decided to click “appeal” button and I told them my confusion as my ad was actually linked to Instagram profile and not to any other website. I also asked them when they stopped my ad and how much I would pay for that rejected ad.

Six hours later, I received a reply from Facebook team. Initially I thought, “Wow, given their huge size, their response is very fast!”

But did you know what their answer was? They were simply repeating the rejection reason that I already read 6 hours earlier in their rejection note! It was a total copy-paste from A to Z. At the end, they added one sentence saying that I should edit my URL and that’s that! They didn’t even answer my question on when they stopped it and the amount they would charge to my account. It was fast, but not helpful at all.

I sent another reply telling them that they didn’t answer any single question I asked. Then I rephrased my question to make myself clear, “Which destination URL that you referred to?” I also repeated my question about my ad period and fee. I even asked them to read my questions and answer them accordingly.

Did you know what happen after that? They sent me another robotic answer! None of my question was answered (again!).

I was really upset at that point. Their customer service’s replies were even more disappointing than the rejected ad itself. Maybe I did something wrong with my sixth ad, but how could I learn from my mistake if I didn’t even know what I did wrong? It’s their job to tell me which part was actually going wrong! I know they are busy with many other inquiries, but it shouldn’t be an excuse notably because this ad I posted was not free.

I finally realized what I did wrong with my sixth ad after three times of trial-error (I edited, posted, got rejected, edited again until it was finally approved) but it doesn’t change my opinion on Facebook team’s performance. Was that really what they wanted? Asking the customers to go figuring out by themselves? The way I see it, if I gave them 3 questions, then they are liable to also give me 3 real answers that I need.

After I managed to fix my ad, this Facebook team’s behavior reminded me of myself. I received hundreds of registration e-mails in a week and I had prepared dozens of templates to reply the applicants depends on their e-mail contents. I began to worry that I also did what Facebook team did: answering people’s questions using a fixed template!

I rushed to my sent items folder and I checked every single e-mail I’ve ever sent to make sure that I have answered any question addressed to me in users’ applications. I was so relieved knowing that I always completed my standardized answers with additional answers to my customers’ additional questions!

At the end of the day, this ad problem with Instagram has been my first lesson on customer service department in my own start-up: it’s not only about how fast you can reply and close the ticket, but also how helpful your replies to the customers are.

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Usually, I’m not that kind of person who takes the work problems to sleep at night. Whatever happens in the office, stays in the office. Yes, I complain about situations at work sometimes, but that’s that. I can still sleep tight at night as if nothing happened the days before.

With that being said, running my own business is completely different to me. I feel scared, I feel okay, but then I feel scared again. I always have a new reason to feel scared about my very own big dream.

What if nobody wants to buy from my web?

What if I’m running out of money?

What if it’s not going to be as good as I want it to be?

What if I fail miserably?

What if it’s only going to be a setback in my career?

I still remember how shocked I was knowing that a friend of mine decided to quit from his own start-up. Not only I was shocked for him as his friend, but also I was shocked for myself. What if the same thing happens to me? Will I be okay with that?

My whole life, I never really experience a big failure in my career. There were ups and downs, but never a real big disaster. What if the company I own become the first big career failure in my entire life?

Career is something that I’m always proud of, and the thought that my own business might ruin that pride totally scares myself. I often sit alone and make some back-up plans on my head just to make sure that at least, I have surviving plans for my future.

I always wanted to write this post on my blog but I kept cancelling the drafts. It’s not that I’m ashamed of my fear, it’s just that I can’t seem to close this writing with something good. I wish I could tell you guys how I had conquered my fears, but that’s just not the truth. For the first time in my life, I take my work problems to the bed at night.

I guess the lesson I’ve learned is that sometimes, you just need to live with your own fear. I’ve come to think that trying hard to get rid of my fear is just a waste of times. Rather than trying to figure out how to not be afraid, I’d better try to figure out how to develop my business. Figure out how I can monetize my website so that I can earn an living with it. And of course, figure out the things I should do for my start-up so that I won’t fail miserably.

I may not have some kind of tips and tricks to get rid of my fear, but at least, I can tell you this one very important principle in life: never ever let your fear get in the way. As I read somewhere in my social media, “It’s always better an oops rather than a what if.”

It’s okay to wonder “what if I fail” but it’s definitely not okay to wonder “what if I tried”. Even if I fail (and I hope I won’t), at least I have tried and I have given my very best fight.

And did you know? As Kevin Caroll once said, “If your dream doesn’t scare you, it isn’t big enough.”

Bismillahirahmanirahim, may God would bless me along the way as He always does, and I hope, He always will. Amiin.

Ever since I decided to start my own business, I’ve received numerous unexpected supports from my families, colleagues, and friends.

The ones who repost my ads to their social media without being asked.

The ones who help me to find potential sellers (one of them even told me that she was willing to work with me without being paid!).

The ones who help me to get affordable spending to support my business (I managed to get special price to help me to ignite my start-up!).

The ones who voluntarily pose as the models for my website’s portfolio (they even trust us to handle their prewedding photoshoot!).

The ones who offer me financial supports, from a zero interest loan to capital funding.

And the ones who simply support me to fight my own doubts! This kind of moral support is always heartwarming to me. They keep telling me that I can go far with this business, they share the same excitement with me, they simply believe in me even a lot more than I believe in myself!

I often look back and I wonder, “What did I do so well in the past that made me deserve any of this?”

If you; all the people who help me out, read this, then let me tell you this: you guys are awesome! Even just a simple encouragement actually means a lot to me. Building a start-up is hard, and you guys have really made it feel easier for me to go down this road. It’s going to be harder and harder, but thanks to all of you, I finally believe that someday, it can be sooner or later, I’ll eventually get there (insyaallah and amiin to this!).

There are some moments when I nearly lost my faith in humanity, but then I have this one moment that makes me believe that good people do still exist. Alhamdulillah 🙂

Tomorrow, I’m going to have the first photoshoot for my start-up; thelenstory.com. The photographers will be the first three of my marketplace sellers; we help each other to build a portfolio for our website. It’s going to be an indoor photoshoot for 5 categories at one shot! Pre-wedding, baby & kids, graduation, family, and beauty portraiture.

In the past one week, I’ve been super busy to prepare all the photoshoot details! The concept, wardrobe, rundown, hunting for MUA and all the props I need! The only big spending I did this whole month was only for the props. I bought some clothes, accessories, aprons, I even bought a very big teddy bear! Hunting for this big bear was quite a story.

Initially I was planning to buy from Teddy House but the nearest store was a bit far from my place. I told my friends about that plan and they suggested me to go to Gembrong market instead. They said that the items were pretty much the same but the prices were significantly cheaper. I am actually not a big fan of traditional market; the aisle is narrow, the space is open air (and therefore it’s hot!), and I still have to bargain just to get the best price from the merchants. But well… I don’t have million dollars USD to fund my start-up and a bit of saving here and there would definitely help!

So there I decided to give Gembrong market a try. My friends gave me some tips: bargain as much as you can, go around the market to compare the price, and don’t wear nice and fancy clothes so that they won’t charge you expensive price for your items. That sounded like a plan to me so that I decided to wear just a simple outfit with almost no make-up on my face.

My outfit was just fine, except this one stupid mistake I did: I still kept my heels on. I’m 171 CM with 7 CM heels and it made me have to bow when I walked through the aisle so that I could keep my head safe from the toys hung on the ceilings. The market was also longer that I saw from outside and wearing heels on uneven ground could also be very challenging. My sister laughed seeing my struggle and she said, “I’m amazed that you’re willing to enter that market!”

Well the truth is that I enjoyed my visit to Gembrong market. Apart from all the downsides, they indeed sell varieties of nice toys both for boys and girls. My nephew really loves this market too. There’s only one thing that made me feel disappointed in my first time to Gembrong: the merchants somehow still offered me overrated price.

Back in Gembrong market, I almost bought a bear priced around IDR 500k. It was fluffy and the size was just right. I still wanted to look for a cuter doll so I walked away and left the market empty handed. I entered Basura mall; right next to Gembrong, hoping that maybe I could find something in that mall. And I was right. I found a toy store in Basura and they also sold the exactly same doll I saw in Gembrong. And did you know? The price in that mall was only IDR 300k!

I managed to find a cute doll I wanted in Basura but I was still unhappy with the size. I needed a doll with height more than one meter and the doll I had was around 20 CM shorter. I told myself that I should find a way to either make it work, or to buy another doll online and ask the seller to send it using Gojek (same day delivery).

I already had some plans running on my head.

Maybe I should change the pose so that I can work with this shorter bear.

Maybe I should order from Tokopedia today so that the doll will arrive tomorrow noon.

But then the universe brought me to an even better plan!

On our way home, I asked my brother not to take a freeway hoping that we can find something along the way. And then my sister replied, “If I’m not mistaken, there is this one nice store close to your high school.”

I tried to recall and she was right; there is one store selling dolls in Gamprit area. My sister checked on Google Map and we were only 2 KM away from that store! Initially I doubted I would find something nice in that area, but right when my car arrived on the parking lot, I instantly changed my mind. I could see the exact doll I was looking for displayed by their windows! I walked so fast to that store, and the first question I asked, “How much does that cost?”

Not only one doll, but also I found a couple more of big and cute dolls in that Gamprit store! It took me around 30 minutes until I ended up buying the first doll I pointed out when I arrived. Before I left the store, I told them that I would definitely come back if I needed something else. They have a high quality product and apparently, they are local company who produce their items in Malang factory. As a fellow Indonesian entrepreneur, I’m so proud that we have more and more capable local players in Indonesia!

Running my own business has really made me do the things I never did before. I had to walk out of my comfort zone to do the things that I usually avoid. But apparently, doing the unknown can be a lot of fun! This doll hunting is just one small stories, I still have a few other big stories to tell, but I’ll keep that for next time.

Now I really need to go back to work just to make sure that all are good for tomorrow’s shoot. Wish me luck!

I was upset last night. I’ve started to do some free advertising (Instagram, Facebook, Path) to recruit sellers for my online marketplace and I’ve announced that the sellers can find us at hunters@thelenstory.com.

I was so excited that the website was underway and I was getting closer to my biggest dream, excited with the tremendous supports given by my families, friends, and even my colleagues in my current employer (yeah, I’m still working for someone else’s corporate too), until my sister in law texted me and she said that her friend could not send e-mail to that mailing group!

I instantly knew that I made mistake on the permission setting and I thought that I could easily fix it. I logged in to my domain administration account but then I was confused.

What did I do wrong?

What should I do to fix this?

So there I googled to search for some clues and it was super annoying that the given guideline was no longer matching with the latest version of the mailing service I use! I clicked here and there, I finally found the setting I was looking for!

The first trial, I told myself, “Oh well, this is easy.” I logged in to my personal Yahoo mail account and sent a testing e-mail to that mailing group… but it bounced back!

I googled again… it appeared that there was one separated setting that I should change. I changed it and sent a second trial e-mail… and it bounced back again! I rechecked everything, one by one, until I realized I missed clicking one button!

Alright, here we go… the third trial… and the e-mail didn’t bounce back to my Yahoo mail! I finally nailed it! But… wait. The e-mail was sent from my Yahoo mail, but I can’t seem to find it in my thelenstory.com inbox!

I refreshed my browser, over and over again, but still, the e-mail was not coming!

At this point, I was super upset to myself. If the same thing happens in my corporate job, I can just text IT Helpdesk and they will fix it right away. This kind of issue may never ever happen in my corporate job anyway. I can ask IT team to prepare the mailing group and they will get it done with no issue like this in the first place!

Can’t you see? My current corporate job is actually comforting!

Have a connection problem? Go to IT team.

Have a legal confusion? Consult with Legal team.

Tax administration? Let the Finance team handles everything (you have no idea how irritating it could be!).

Running out of money? Send e-mail to your HQ or regional office asking (or a bit of begging) for more funding, hehehehe.

But seriously, running a business is like “running” from your comfort zone. Unless you are very well funded, building a new company will push you to learn all the little things at work. You will have to roll up your sleeves even higher than your old corporate job!

Back to my group e-mail problem… how did it end? I finally realized that I hadn’t registered myself as the member of that mailing group! That’s why I didn’t receive the e-mail in my inbox, hehehe.

Having said that my old corporate job was comforting, running my own business is way more challenging to me. Yes it makes me have to touch the ground, but if you see it from another perspective, it actually makes me learn a lot of new things about building a company from the scratch. Until someday, this little scratch; this start-up, is going to be my very own corporate job.

As I mentioned earlier in this blog, I’m currently working on my own start-up. Just finished the blueprint, business plan, and of course, vendors hunting.

Here are 3 things I’ve learned about building a start-up at this very early stage:

  1. How to choose vendors and the traits you should consider before awarding the projects. You don’t need to hire super expensive vendors but you can’t always choose the cheapest service just because it fits your budget. At this point, you will realize the importance of chemistry and belief in your business partners. If you don’t feel clicked since the very beginning, it they don’t share the same passions as yours, and if it takes ages for them to response your inquiries, then you’re just not meant to work with them. There are plenty of good vendors out there, but not everyone will work well with your business;
  2. How to do free marketing. I’ve learned a lot from a couple of successful business founders. Free is not always bad, it can be as effective, it just requires more times to figure it out and a lot more times to work on it. Your apps is not yet live anyway, you have plenty of times to do it yourself. I’ve chosen not to accept any investor’s funding and free marketing (or cheap marketing to some extent) is the only choice I have at the moment; and
  3. I’ve learned the hard way that I can’t have all features I want to have in the first development. I should be able to distinguish “the must have” against “the nice to have”. It’s better to have a few well developed features rather than a lot of troublesome features on your apps. Go live as soon as you can, new features can be developed later on.

I’ll write more about my start-up later on! I’ve created a new category in this blog named The Lens Story and a new tag named The Start-up Story.

And yes, my start-up is named The Lens Story. The web apps is going live in the next three months (insyaallah).

Stay tune!


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The beauty of diversity. I'm glad that I met them along my career path at Lazada. Just a little help like this could mean everything to me and The Lens Story. Many thanks! ❤️
📷: @thelenstory 👚: @adidaswomen 👕: @nike 
#friends #friendshipgoals #diversity #photography #photooftheday #canon #snapseed #thelenstory Find someone who loves you properly.
The one who never intentionally let you wait for him.
The one who never makes you have to wonder how he truly feels about you.
The one who will definitely catch you and hold you tight as you fall for him.
The one who gives you all he has to be a better man, to fix what goes wrong, to fight for you and to never let you go.
You are too old for another Mr. Wrong, reward yourself with the right one.
Love yourself enough to leave your past, you deserve better.
📷: @thelenstory
💄: @yuficarolin.mua
👗: @calla.atelier
👠: @charleskeithofficial 
#love #life #quote #photography #photooftheday #thelenstory I'm not perfect. I make mistakes. I do the things I'm not proud of. I give up, sometimes. I hurt people, mostly the ones that I actually care about. I have a lot of flaws, but at least, I'm trying hard to be a better person. I'm no saint nor angel, but I'm not a pure evil either. I'm simply a human who is trying to be the very best that I can be. I'll never stop learning, until my very last breath.
📷 @thelenstory
💄 @yuficarolin.mua
👗 @calla.atelier
👠 @charleskeithofficial
#photooftheday #beauty #photography #quote #thelenstory

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About Me

What my blog is all about? It's all about my life; my very own fairy tale, that I would love to share. This is my story, my ups and downs, it's a journey to remember.