You rarely hear about how truly fucking brutal it is

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: lawrence@krubner.com

I love this, so very true:

Usually you read about startups on sites like TechCrunch where a startup in San Francisco made some app that does something inane like sends “Yo” to your friends and raises million of dollars their seed round that later sells for 100s of millions to billions of dollars. You rarely hear about how truly fucking brutal it is. It’s not the long hours that most founders say in interviews, it’s the mental anguish. The euphoric Mt. Everest highs and depressing 6ft down under lows. That’s what I’m writing about today.

And then the sad but common mistake of focusing on the software that one controls, instead of the external relationships that actually determine one’s fate:

That first week flew by. We redesigned the app in a few days to be more modern and rebuilt it in React. We figured the most obvious way to go about launching this thing was to build the software right the first time and when we go to show future investors they’ll ogle at it and throw money at our faces. So that’s what we did. We spent months building this app with no banking integration at all while we waited on our banking partner at the time, MoneyBiz™, to finish things up on their end.

Then the Kickstarter fund raising effort fails and:

This was extremely rough for us. This was our first real true failure, but we dusted it off and kept going. When we figured out we wouldn’t have money for a backend person I stopped working on design and front-end and went all to backend development getting ready for our MoneyBiz™ integration.

I can relate to that.

And this kind of thing, when they get interviewed by Ycombinator:

This was huge. We practiced our pitch repeatedly. We had our answers down to a T. We flew down there for our interview and waited in their weird all orange room. I was beyond nervous. I was about to have an Eminem spaghetti moment when they called us in.

The interview went by in what now seems like a blip, but I remember nailing it. We came out thinking there was nothing we could have said or done better. We waited anxiously to see if we got in when we got the email.

We were not accepted.

Their reasoning was that while they loved us and the product and, as they said, we “answered everything perfectly”, we weren’t integrated with our bank partner so if they put us in their program there was a chance we’d be in and out of their program without ever launching or even being able to do any product stuff.

Little did we know that worry was dead on.

That reminds me of all the many times I tried to raise money, and I had my pitch perfect, and I was tripped up by a practicality that had nothing to do with the pitch.

And this is how I ended up:

Adam and I were both completely broke. I maxed every credit card. I was paying part of our employees salary out of my savings. I was going to the bank and taking cash out and depositing it into our business account to pay salaries and expenses. My savings was down to basically a month of personal bills and thats it. We were behind on payroll taxes and lawyer fees we couldn’t afford.

And this is a great summary of the emotions:

I felt defeated, and oddly, I felt lonely. You always hear about the successes of startups and never the failures unless they’re catastrophic so at the time I felt like I was the only one out there that failed even though I knew the stat that 9/10 startups fail in the first 2 years. Only a couple people know this but I had an actual mental breakdown one night sometime after all this happened. I didn’t even know those were real things until I had one. It was like going through a death in the family.

However, in the end, the story has a happy ending, and happy endings are rare in the world of startups. That’s really the only part of the story that sucks, is the ending, since it departs from what is common. But of course, it has the advantage of being true.

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