Last year, Anastasia Leng decided to leave her secure, cushy job at Google and venture into the land of startups.
Leng spent a little over five years at Google, where she worked as a product marketing manager. Before she left the tech giant to start Makeably, Leng was living in London where she worked as Google’s new business development manager.
Google asked her if there was anything they could do to keep her, but there really wasn’t. It wasn’t about the money, Leng tells us. It was either about striking out or succeeding on her own.
“My parents fought for everything we’ve ever had,” Leng says. Everything. So I just felt like in some way, I could have this very comfortable life and it would be amazing, but it would almost be the opposite of my parents.”
But as glamorous as Silicon Valley might seem, it can be tough for first-time entrepreneurs to get their footing. Even for serial entrepreneurs, there’s no guarantee that your new product will be as successful as your first.
Needless to say, there’s a huge risk in launching a startup.
“I was so scared to leave Google,” Leng tells Business Insider. “I was doing well. I had a great manager. All through Google, I had a series of absolutely incredible managers. But then I got the point where I felt, if I don’t do this now, I will never ever have the guts to do it again, so I just had to kind of throw myself out there and do it.”
At Google, anything Leng needed to do, she knew would get done. If she was working on a deal, a marketing campaign, or negotiations, people would always get back to her. But not because of her, Leng says, because of her affiliation with Google.
“And now I feel like you’re on your own in this big, bad world and you have a lot less appeal because we don’t have the power of Google,” Leng says. “And yet, I’ve never felt more accomplished because the mistakes you make are yours and the victories you have are yours, too.”
It’s all about having that tangible sense of building something, Leng says. But that doesn’t necessarily make running a company any easier. The first couple of months, Leng says, were like a rollercoaster.
“You would find all this emotional energy being spent on it,” Leng says. “Which is a good thing. This is our baby.”
Leng, alongside fellow former Googler Ryan Hayward, beta launched Makeably last September. Makeably is a marketplace for custom goods that connects makers with consumers.
Makeably aims to help makers utilise their underlying skill set to further expand their product offerings and range, and take the risk part of it out. At the same time, it’s enabling everyday people to purchase one-of-a-kind items.
Potential buyers browse through sites various sections — home, apparel, kids, hobby, and weddings. Once you see something you like, you can request to get a custom version made.
Let’s say you see a pair of leggings, for example. You could upload photos and designs, select your size, and the type of fabric you prefer and get those custom made. You could also get a custom-made vintage TV that you can plug your laptop into, and watch videos in black and white.
But over the last few months, Leng says they realised there were two very distinct ways people were using Makeably. There are those who know exactly what they want and are willing to spend an arm and a leg for it. Then there are those who want to remix products and make it their own. The latter group makes up for the majority.
The desire for personalisation has never been so strong, Leng says. Today, people are growing accustomed to personalised products and features, like Facebook’s news feed, Pandora and Spotify’s playlists, news readers like Flipboard and Zite, and much more.
“It’s only a matter of time before that goes analogue, and we want to be there when it does,” Leng says. “That’s really one of the biggest bets that we’re making.”