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Adii Pienaar

Family man, seeker and learner. Revealing my inner-poet. 2X Founder: Conversio (acquired by Campaign Monitor) + WooCommerce (acquired by Automattic. Ex-Rockstar.

Entreporn to Entrepoetry

tl;dr I'm a successful, tech entrepreneur that have started to question everything about being an entrepreneur and building a business. The way I'm doing this is with a new personal challenge: publish a book of my poetry.

Also, read on... πŸ‘‡πŸ»πŸ€“


"Entreporn is the stuff that tantalizes. It’s a fantasy. It’s emotionally manipulative. Either it says that everything is perfectly clear, you just have to do this one thing for wild success…"

- Amy Hoy

I have been a tech entrepreneur since about 2004 and have founded two successful business: WooThemes/WooCommerce (acquired by Automattic) and Conversio (still a work-in-progress).

Back in 2015, all this ambition and drive (amongst other things) culminated in a complete upheaval in my personal life that almost saw me losing my family. This experience prompted many changes and a new awareness of who I was and what I wanted.

Then towards the end of 2017, we found ourselves in a precarious financial position at Conversio: we suddenly realised that about 15% of our expected revenue had just vanished via an almost six-month long reporting bug. (Fast-forward: We turned things around and are healthier than ever today.)

During that incredibly tough time in 2017, I felt hopeless and tired. "Being an entrepreneur" was a big part of my identity and it just got to a point where building a business drained me more than it energised or excited me.

What helped though was writing and especially poetry, because it was a free-form, no rules, no outcomes required way for me to explore all of the things that were troubling me. It helped me understand more of who I was and also expanded my awareness of many seemingly counter-intuitive things:

  • Even though this is tough right now and it feels like I just want to quit, I'm still ambitious and I still want to make things.
  • Entrepreneur may not always be the best way to describe myself. Sometimes I prefer other labels like creator, maker or artist.
  • Even in business, it is often very hard to feel successful even though you are objectively successful.
  • It's okay to fall in and out of love with things. Life changes. So do you.
  • There are other things beyond "business" that I would like to explore too. And I can probably do that at the same time as building a business.

My first book of poetry, Motion, is all about this thought process that has steadily changed to way I see myself and business in the last 18 months. You will likely find something in Motion that resonates with you, if you:

  • Have struggled as an entrepreneur / in business in the past.
  • Sometimes feel a little stuck and not sure what to do next.
  • Have or are considering a change in careers.
  • Feel jaded with the mainstream romanticism of entrepreneurship.
  • Are curious about poetry and want an easy way to explore this.

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