I’ve got two critically important articles to point your attention to today – on startup communities and startup failure.
- Jevon MacDonald talks about how startups can save venture capital (in Canada). He includes a great presentation that he’s given in a few places about how startup communities can work more effectively to get great startups off the ground.
My take, without turning this into a blog post of its own, is that the early, but growing startup communities across Canada need to do a much better job of policing their own and touting their own. This is something that I have yet to see addressed effectively by anyone. Somehow, as a community, we need to be able to get together, vet ideas, provide honest feedback and bring new teams together with new ideas, where old teams and old ideas have failed. If we don’t take a hard look at our own “house” (i.e. the collection of startups we’re launching), and be honest with each other when things aren’t working (and celebrate that failure), then we do ourselves a disservice. Once we – as a startup community – are truly creating great startups, pumping out great teams with great ideas, mashing up people and ideas in new ways, and proving that we can raise the bar on the quality of the community, I guarantee you the funding will follow quite aggressively.
- Roger Ehrenberg writes a very detailed and honest post-mortem on Monitor110, a startup he was involved with from an early stage. They raised around $20M dollars, but couldn’t get where they needed to go. What’s most important about Roger’s thoughts is the fact that he’s completely honest and open. He includes a list of critical mistakes he made, many of which we’ve all seen from within our own startups. You can be sure that Roger has taken those mistakes to heart and significantly improved his outcomes in other businesses he’s involved with.
Post-mortems like this are hard to do. It reminds me of Phil Chrun’s own deconstruction of his failed startup, MyCarpoolStation. It was open, raw and real. If you can’t learn from Roger’s mistakes and Phil’s mistakes, you’re in big trouble, cause you’re not learning at all.
Startup communities work when they’re honest and mature. We shouldn’t go around publicly bashing one another, there’s no value in that, but privately we have to be able to look at things with an honest eye. I don’t like the thought of negatively impacting a young team of entrepreneurs by providing real criticism – the worry is that they abandon their goals of being startup entrepreneurs – but if we can’t provide that criticism, step up with our own honest stories of failure, and then find active solutions to building great startups with the pool of people and ideas we have, we can’t succeed as a startup community.