Yesterday, Chris Poole (known as ‘moot‘, founder of 4chan) shut down his startup (which created Canvas and DrawQuest). You should go read his post: Today my startup failed. The TechCrunch post is good too, and highlights just how hard it is to get real growth in a consumer startup.
One quote stood out for me:
“Few in business will know the pain of what it means to fail as a venture-backed CEO. Not only do you fail your employees, your customers, and yourself, but you also fail your investors—partners who helped you bring your idea to life.“
Man, is that ever true.
The worst part of startup failure isn’t that the startup failed, it’s that you–as the founder–failed. And worse than that is how bad you feel having let everyone down. That takes awhile to get over.
All I can say Chris is, “welcome to the club.”
It’s a big club. A motley assortment of…well, pretty much every startup founder that’s ever lived. Some of us are gold card carrying members. (My postmortem on Standout Jobs is still one of the most popular posts on this blog, and gets listed in many “top post-mortem” posts elsewhere.) I won’t say we’re proud of the failure, but we’ve definitely learned from it. And when we get together, we can and do lean on each other for support, not just to re-hash the mistakes and “what could have been”, but to provide a shoulder and a knowing, “ya, been there, done that…”
Starting a company is hard. People spout that platitude constantly (I know I have), but until you’ve failed as a founder, you don’t really understand what that means. I don’t know Chris, but I do know that most people recover, learn a lot from the experience, and come back stronger. It’s a fairly common pattern. And I’m sure the same will be true for Chris, and the countless other startup founders that are out there feeling like shit because they’ve failed.
Welcome to the club.