Startups Are Like Jigsaw Puzzles

Startups are like jigsaw puzzles: they can be deliciously challenging and full of surprises. With both, the joy lies with the journey, not the destination!

NERD ALERT: I have loved jigsaw puzzles my entire life! From the age of 7, a 1000 piece puzzle was the safest gift to give me for my birthday, an activity where I could lose myself for hours -- a form of meditation where my mind would clear of all the noise and I would focus only on the puzzle and its wondrous mysteries waiting to be unlocked, one piece at a time.

My family tease me about how I get so tunnel visioned over finding a single piece. The house could burn down, sirens blaring and I would be seen through the flames, bent over the puzzle, brow furrowed, deep in my search for the piece with the triple "outie" and the tiny yellow edge that would fit in perfectly.


And then the pandemic arrived, and puzzling took on a whole new guise: an escape from my own mind and surroundings to a wondrous place that I could create, sometimes alone, sometimes companionably alongside my husband or children. At one point, I was knocking off one puzzle every week!

Fast forward a couple of years and jigsaw puzzles have become more than a hobby – they are now an essential part of my life. I must have a puzzle on the go, to give me meditative relief, or small breaks within a long work day. I can regularly be heard walking past the kitchen to the dining table while I call out "Hey Siri, set a timer for 3 minutes," as I take a mini-break to find another 3 pieces of my puzzle.

(When I started doing this, the dog would raise her head hoping that I would walk toward the back door and a quick walk around the block, but she now knows that "Hey Siri..." is not her friend.)

The pile of finished puzzles reaches to the ceiling. More than a fabulous library for family, friends and colleagues who enjoy the odd puzzle too. It is my humble brag. Check. It. Out. 👉

With no further to go, I have started a second pile, and wondering how long it will take for this one to reach the ceiling. I certainly hope it won't require a pandemic to achieve it, but honestly, it’s a bit of a race against myself. The first pile took 3 years…but at my current pace, perhaps the second will only take 2??

But why? I mean, really – why?

Other than a bit of escapism or a mental health break, why do I love puzzles in this obsessive way? The answer to this question mirrors my answer to "Why  Xakia?" when I am asked what inspired me to embark on a startup journey.

I love jigsaw puzzles (and Xakia) because...

Every piece is unique and important

Whether it is an oddly shaped puzzle piece or an oddly talented member of your team, recognizing and appreciating the specific traits and talents of your pieces takes time. Once achieved, it is extremely satisfying to stand back and admire the diversity amongst them and to recognize that the puzzle is incomplete without even a single piece.

Every piece has its place

Finding the perfect place for each piece can take time, but when it's right, it is incredibly satisfying to watch it drop seamlessly into place and to see how it fits with the other pieces to form the picture. Whether it is building a new feature on a legal matter management software, or finally finishing that complicated, intricate part of the jigsaw puzzle image, there is nothing better than things that just fit together beautifully. The mini-dopamine hit is instant and extremely gratifying.

The journey is fabulous

The journey can be slow, and then fast. It can be methodical or haphazard. It can be predictable, or it can be surprising. But it is a journey and I increasingly appreciate that the destination – though it can be fabulous – is just a moment. The journey is where the real joy lies.

The journey continues

My startup journey started several years ago now, and I certainly intend for it to continue for many more. Like my jigsaw puzzles, I continue to build it out one piece at a time, watching the picture form slowly but beautifully.

And like my jigsaw puzzle pile, I enjoy watching it reach for great heights! 

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