What makes startup founders happy about their work?

- March 20, 2019 5 MIN READ
International Day of Happiness

It may seem hard to celebrate, given the events of the last week, but the 20th of March is the International Day of Happiness. At the same time, this year’s theme of ‘Happier Together’ seems particularly fitting: it’s asking us to focus on what we have in common rather than what divides us.

So happy International Day of Happiness!

With the startup world often glorifying the hustle and struggle of startup life, Startup Daily thought the International Day of Happiness would be a good occasion to ask startup founders to reflect on what it is about their work that brings them happiness.

Aleks Svetski and Chantelle de la Rey, cofounders of Amber


Right now, at Amber, I have a phenomenal opportunity to work with a vibrant and revolutionary new asset; Bitcoin. After spending years in capital markets, studying math, monetary history, economics, psychology, anthropology and societal evolution, this work brings everything that I find interesting together.

The idea that we can help thousands, and one-day millions of people get access to this exciting new asset class is incredibly inspiring to me. I am most happy when I get to the team together and execute on our vision. These are the moments that life is all about for me.

For me, “smooth sailing” does not imply a real journey. Part of the delight of making progress is putting in the hard work so that you know you’ve earned it at the end. The International Day of Happiness is just a reminder that I love what you do, and I should be happy that I have the opportunity to do it.


There is something about taking an idea and turning it into something real, tangible, and something people want to use that brings me a sense of joy. My career constantly challenges me to think, problem solve and exercise creativity.

At Amber, we’re providing people with access to an asset like Bitcoin, which could one day be a significant part of their nest egg. It brings me happiness to know that we are helping people in such an important way.

Through my life experiences, I have learnt bumps in the road are just something we all have to go through. These bumps may hurt emotionally, physically or financially but there is a reason for every jostle. An easy life is boring. True satisfaction comes from conquering the difficult things.

I plan to celebrate the International Day of Happiness by taking the team out for lunch and use it as an opportunity to think about how we can improve to make our team happier. After all, happiness is a true success.

Emma Barr, founder of iLEADS

After being in the real estate industry for five years I realised that there was so much untapped potential within the social media side of the real estate industry.

So I went about building a business that I knew would benefit real estate agents all around Australia and make their day to day lives easier. iLeads has given me a real passion and joy for my work. Helping agents reach the best version of themselves is what really makes me happy.

The challenge of keeping up with an evolving social media and staying at the forefront has allowed me to become better at what I do. It actually overcoming the problems that come with consistently new work that brings me the most joy.

Given that it is the International Day of Happiness, I thought it was a great opportunity to take a moment to recognise where I am today and how happy I am to be working at something that I truly love!

Dr Giulia D’Anna, founder of iDental

I knew from an early age that I wanted to be involved with people and health. I began working as a general dentist, but now I am more of a cosmetic practitioner, where I blend dental health and dental cosmetics, with the face and body overall.

I’ve discovered that to really make a positive impact on people, I need to focus on the whole, not just their teeth. It’s a great joy watching the transformation in people I work with, not just their dental health, but their personality too!

Bumps in the road are just a learning experience. Why would you stop or be deterred by learning? The biggest challenges have helped me become a better person. We grow from those things that force us to get a little uncomfortable.

As I celebrate the International Day of Happiness I’ll be doing what brings me the most joy; working with patients to help them achieve their goals. Enjoy and celebrate happiness, because when you do, it breeds.

Phil Allison, founder of Corporate Edge

I started Corporate Edge directly after discovering my life purpose. I decided to reflect on what made me happy at work and realised it was achieving my potential by helping others to achieve their own.  There is something magical about seeing people grow and become happier in their relationships, their work and within themselves.

There are many things that act as bumps on the road to fulfilling our potential, but the thing that drove me forward with absolute confidence was the unerring belief that I would make a significant difference. My future was in my own hands. Living up to my potential has made me the happiest I can be.

Reflecting on the International Day of Happiness is a fascinating opportunity to think about what we do at Corporate Edge, the difference we make and the people we work with. Knowing that we are helping many to live happier lives, has also made me realise that I get to live a ‘day of happiness’ every single day.

Jae Fraser, founder of Little Scholars

I was always told I was good with children, a naturally born educator and leader. I would volunteer at my Auntie’s child care centre during my school holidays. It was only natural for me to go into early childhood education. My lifelong dream has always been to have my own Early Learning Centre and the day that dream came true was one of the happiest days of my life.

Something I have learnt is that just because you lose your smile doesn’t mean you can’t find joy. We can use any challenges that we face as lessons and reflect on these to improve our practice. Staying true to your purpose and vision is so important because it allows you to be happy in the hard times.

At Little Scholars we will be putting on a special lunch for all of our teams, inviting children to create things that make them smile, celebrating the day with them, hopefully sharing around some happiness.

Jessica Lai, cofounder of WeekDay Space

After working in research, communications and strategy for almost 20 years now, it was time to create my own brand that represented what I believe people are really looking for today. Facilitating successful matches through WeekDay Space has been exhilarating!

No day is the same. Working across such a breath of industry and issues keeps me engaged and ensures I never stop learning or asking questions. I have a fascination with people and getting to spend my time talking to them and exploring their issues, their motivations and barriers is a great privilege.

Challenges are important for realising what’s actually important to you and what you really want to be doing or prioritising in life to make you the happiest.

I will be celebrating the International Day of Happiness by being grateful for all that I have and am able to achieve, both personally and professionally.

Image: by Lidya Nada on Unsplash