Blog Post by ELP Student Elis Sholla (Dual Major Computer Science – Eng and Data Science – Eng | Class of 2021)

This summer started out rough for me. The pandemic, especially the quarantine phase, managed to lower my daily level of happiness and certainly tipped off my psychological and emotional balance.

I was let go from the engineering position I have been working for the past two years at Yazaki North America R&D. Plenty of financial struggle was to be predicted. I started getting scared for my safety and the safety of the ones I love and that lowered drastically the level of motivation and work ethic that I am usually accustomed to.

Dallas aka Best Pitbull Ever (Don’t let the eyes fool you. He will chew your socks).

I am an extrovert and live with my puppy (best Pitbull ever). Adjusting to weeks of staying quarantined at home was something I have not done before and that was the biggest challenge. I was noticing that the majority of my thoughts were starting to turn negative, unlike my usual positive self. 

Keep calm and carry on…

Luckily, I have experienced that vicious circle before and I realized that I had to address the frequent negative thoughts. So, I took time for myself and did what makes me happy for a couple of weeks or so. I spent my time cooking my favorite dishes, walking my dog in Hines Park, listening to my favorite music, exercising, reading books, watching documentaries – mostly history (WWII junkie) and psychology -, and regulated my sleep schedule.

Well, that helped! If you find yourself catching the blues, sleep well, eat healthy, and exercise. It always works for me and I strongly believe it will work for you. With that said, I learned how to cope better with negative episodes in my life and I would say this is the first time I dealt so smoothly with situations like it. 

Hines Park Daily Reading Spot.

Fresh start…

Jobless, full of energy, positivity, and good thoughts, I started thinking of opening my startup.

My best friend James and I have been talking about becoming entrepreneurs for a long time now but yet, we did not have any working project. Our initial timeline was to finish school first, then get a job, and afterward manage to launch a startup while working full time. Well, this seemed to be the optimal time. We started brainstorming about a couple of ideas we had discussed months before, on our trip to the East Coast with the Center for Entrepreneurship. So we chose to start our entrepreneurial journey! 

Feels good to be an entrepreneur… (or at least try to become one) 

I have many doubts, I don’t want to act all confident. In a nutshell, I am doing a lot of work, not getting paid, for a startup/product that may be successful or may crash and burn. Honestly, I do not care at all! It is an amazing experience. I am almost always outside of my comfort zone professionally and interpersonally. I am growing at levels I have never experienced before. I am learning so much about everything that comes up and the rate at which I absorb new information gets faster. That is an awesome skill I want to continuously improve. Most importantly, I am having a lot of fun and enjoying every second of it.

James and I at the meeting with IA Ventures.

Expectations vs Reality…

Being an entrepreneur truly needs commitment and requires a lot of time and energy. At the same time, it requires plenty of patience and willingness to learn new information.

An entrepreneur needs to be comfortable with being in a position where they always have to learn new material. These are abilities that I am still learning and I do get challenged daily. My expectations compared to the reality of what entrepreneurship would be are pretty much the same. I expected it to be tough, but I would enjoy it. So far, it has been great learning so much and contributes to the development of a product. Chronologically seeing it grow from an idea talked in a bar, to a product that solves so many problems makes it all worth it. That serves as a great source of motivation. 

Looking forward…

Currently, we are in the phase of developing our MVP. There are no strict timelines given that James and I have to make a living so we are interning. Sokrat, a friend of mine who is a law student at Northwestern, joined the startup as well. It has been a great experience working with a team and spending time not only developing the MVP but also taking care of the business and legal side of the company.