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Startups Need “Killer Instinct”, Not “Killing It”

  • Popular culture continues to glamorize startups, often overlooking the harsh reality that 90 percent of them fail.
  • There is so much fiction around start-ups, with successful one being celebrated, while losers get written off easily.
  • Emotional travails of deciding what to build, how to build it, who to build it with, when, where, why, with whose money, etc. are harrowing.

Venturing out and setting up a Startup is a sheer act of will and tenacity in the face of immense skepticism from everyone—investors, customers, friends, family, and employees, to name a few.

Founders of startups live for chaotic moments. Anyone who can’t manage chaos and uncertainty, isn’t totally oriented for action, and has no sense of urgency, is in the wrong business.

And, something ominous happened to Jody Sherman,CEO,ecomom.com , which was launched in 2008. Now,  it is on the verge of closure. News reports indicate that mismanagement of funds and some sort of purchasing decision that went wrong are attributed to Ecomom’s failure as a start up. And what went pathetically wrong was the untimely death of its CEO Jody Sherman.

While there’s plenty of speculation, there’s still no conclusive proof that Jody’s death and Ecomom’s failure are correlated.

Paul Graham wrote in 2007, “The most likely animals to be left alive after a nuclear war are cockroaches, because they’re so hard to kill.” “Instead of a beautiful but fragile flower that needs to have its stem in a plastic tube to support itself, [startups better] be small, ugly, and indestructible.”

The industry has a tendency to make pariahs out of startups that aren’t doing so well, so “never show weakness” becomes a koan, to the point of self-delusion.

“No matter how dark it gets, you should never, ever take your own life. Professional investors understand failure,” Ecomom investor Cyan Banister keenly observed. “Your friends and family may not but they should. Your employees will move on and find better things to do with their lives. It is all temporary. You may never heal [entirely] from it, but everyone around you will.” And everyone else might just be wrong.

As popular culture continues to glamorize startups, the harsh reality that 90 percent of them fail is consistently ignored.

And failing of a startup is not an epitaph.. Entrepreneurship is a journey…it never ends…

Adapted from:
“Killing It” Isn’t Worth It, TechCrunch


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