Thursday, March 15, 2012

Startup is not for faint of heart

Since my brief stint at Microsoft, I have been working at startups.  I guess there is something in me that draws me to startup culture.  I think there are many facets of startups that appeal to me.  Among many, the most appealing aspect is building.  When working for a startup, a very little is defined and handed down.  There is no proven path that will work.  I have to figure things out and get it working.  But that's not all.  Just like any other challenging game, you are given a limited time and resources to get it right.

I find this startup process very satisfying.  I think it's the number one reason why I've been staying away from tech giants.  Although it's not the rule, bigger companies tend to move slower and have all kinds of help and fail-safe mechanisms to catch you if you are falling behind.  Startup is not like that.  If you run out of money before creating positive cash flow, either you fold or get out to raise more money.  It has brutal yet simple logic to its success.  To get to the next level, you must survive this round.

Paul Graham's Startup Curve;
Thanks to Fred Wilson for the reminder.
Luckily I don't manage runways or worry about burn rate, but I vividly recall the days where all team members were worrying about where the next paycheck is going to come from.  When you get that close to the brink of folding, it's only natural that emotions run very high.  Compare that feeling of despair with first setting sail after closing initial funding, you get the proverbial emotional rollercoaster ride.

When I saw Paul Graham's so-called Startup Curve, I think I was still recovering from the still fresh memory of our failed attempt at our earlier startup.  Now that several years have gone by, I think I can look at the curve little more objectively.

Startup is not for faint of heart.  Not only it requires you to focus and work crazy hours to get things done, but it demands you to be emotionally prepared for daily ups and downs and self-doubts.

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