Local Capital

Eirikur Hrafnsson

Eirikur Hrafnsson (Photo credit: AlphachimpStudio)

My partners and I took a long bet on Iceland right after the financial collapse in 2008. Our first investment was in CLARA and we have invested our time and effort in Startup Iceland and a couple of Hospitality and Tourism related projects. Nothing to sneeze about but we have taken a long term view of our investment horizon whether we are successful in it or not depends a lot on the local community stepping up to the challenge. I am constantly approached by Entrepreneurs and Wanna-Preneurs asking us to invest in their idea. I never say no to such a meeting, I meet with each and everyone and listen to their thoughts and ideas and try to be constructive in the dialogue and discussion. What we need in Iceland is local capital, I believe there is enough and more local capital that can be channelled into Entrepreneurs and venture ideas. Mark Suster has written a wonderful post on this and #2 requirement for a Startup Community to take off is local investors and entrepreneurs investing their time and effort in their local communities. I don’t believe I can say it any better than what Mark says about Local Capital:

2. Local Capital – I do believe that you’ll struggle to get a community started without some local capital. And in many communities that are new to building tech startups I’ve found that a lot of angel money is not very sophisticated at investing in startup companies. So you see long, drawn-out processes, non-commercial terms, investors who want to meddle too much and so on.

My suggestion is to get some of the angel groups – notorious for slow decision-making and hat passing – and pool their money into a small fund structure of say $5-10 million. Elect 1-2 representatives and even invite a local VC to invest personally and sit on the investment committee or be an advisor. The key it to have “realistic capital.”

There are two reasons you need local capital. First, it is unlikely that a serious investor will commit to funding a company outside of their geographic sphere until you have a degree of success, traction, scale – whatever. So usually the first money comes locally.

The second reason for local capital (this time in the form of venture capital) is that without it every company that starts scaling will have to talk to Silicon Valley VCs who – I promise you – will tell the company that they have to relocate to the Bay Area in order to be funded. If you’re super hot / successful you can resist. Otherwise, good luck!

And not that I blame them. If you’re working with early-stage companies you need to be spending quality time with them which means you need to be nearby. And with thousands in your backyard, why would you go to far flung places to find deals?

Another important point that I can make given that I a “foreign” investor in Iceland (I am not, I live in Reykjavik and this is my home) is that it is hard to convince anyone outside of Iceland to invest in Iceland and take a long term view. I believe the Government efforts to attract Foreign Direct Investment will never work for the patient capital that is needed to build a Startup Ecosystem, it will only attract easy flight capital and we all know the consequence of attracting that capital, it moves in and moves out at a very rapid pace. Given the current currency controls I don’t believe that capital is ever going to come back to Iceland. VC and Private Equity funds will NOT come to iceland looking for deals until there is a big win and some company that is starting to make an impact in the global market. I have taken on this challenge by joining GreenQloud which I believe can make a huge impact without having to leave Iceland.

It is disturbing to listen to some of the investors in Iceland advising Startups to leave Iceland to be successful, what a twisted thinking! I cannot disagree more to this notion, Iceland is a fantastic place to build and grow your startup and I have no religious views but logical ones. I keep wondering why local investors do not invest in Startups and there could be million reasons but we need to take the first step. We need to believe that local capital can be channelled and we can create world class companies out of here. We need a better quality of Venture Funds in Iceland as well. We need fund structures that invest in all stages of a Company development. The sad truth is that local investors want to pick winners in this game and I have written about Picking Winners in a Farm of Black Swans, which is extremely difficult if not impossible. I wish I can convince some of the investors and wealthy people to invest in the Ecosystem and in building a Startup Community. I wish I can convince the existing Venture Funds to not act like they know what they are doing and take long bets on every idea that comes their way. I don’t believe there is any magic bullet to solve this problem of local capital but education and a lot of lobbying. I believe it can be done and I know many of the Entrepreneurs think the same way in Iceland as I do.

Dedication to the Truth

Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship (Photo credit: Michael Lewkowitz)

Truth is reality. Reality can be distorted when we have wrong maps in front of us. To be part of a startup or running your own business there is nothing more detrimental than not dedicating everything about what is done in the company to truth. I believe Entrepreneurship is a Truth Game. You cannot lie to yourself that your product or service is great when your users don’t want to pay for it. The reality of running out of money hits you like a ton of bricks. Obviously it is hard, building something that is not yet there but getting someone to pay for it with all its limitations and crashes and bugs, but as long as you are honest about the status of things and are continually making progress you are doing the right thing. There is a reason why all investors want to see metrics, because metrics shows the reality of the performance of the team. So what are these metrics? Sarah Pervette, one of the speakers in Startup Iceland had this slide that she stole from Bessemer Venture Partners:

Source: Startup Iceland 2012, Sarah Prevette

These 6 metrics should be in front of every Entrepreneur, you need to measure this, monitor this and make sure that you are tracking progress on all of this. It is very easy to get caught up in the mix of things when you are doing a startup, there are million things you need to do and things are not working, people don’t show up because they are sick, whatever but being honest about the measurement of your business is the most important thing that you cannot take your eyes off from.

How to allocate the Option Pool?

The only currency a startup has other than cash which you need to run the daily experiments to find the Product to Market fit and to build a Minimum Viable Product is Equity. I find that many founders and technical team members struggle with understanding Equity believe me it took me a while to figure this out, however once you understand what Equity is and how it can be used, one stumbles on how you should allocate the equity.

As founder(s) I presume there is more than one, you own majority of the equity in your business although it is worthless at this time and you own all of it. If you are successful in raising money ie cash, the investor substitutes his cash for equity in your business, typically when companies are formed you have a said number of shares… in Iceland it is 500.000 (five hundred thousand shares) and usually you are suppose to post cash against it and show it in your Balance Sheet when you register the company or file with the company registry. The company can issue more shares and each share is valued either by the cash that you can generate operating the business or if an investor comes in with money and values the shares at a certain rate. If you have followed me so far, then you are doing much better than how I felt when this was explained to me a long time back.

Anyways, moving on… now you have equity ie. shares in your business and you need to hire a top talent, you want to conserve your cash because you are still iterating and have not yet reached break even i.e your expenses does not equal your income. You use the next currency to attract talent, i.e equity or option pool. You can either take a portion of the equity and allocate it to the role that you plan to hire as part of the compensation package or you can allocate a certain percentage of the option pool. Option pools are formed when the existing share holders decide to take a percentage of the equity and set it aside as a pool to attract talent into the business. The actual pool size depends on the shareholders etc me and my partners in AIP usually are generous with this allocation, we don’t scrimp on this because we believe in order to hire top talent you need to provide top potential upside for their time and effort. So, how do you determine the pool size or allocation within the pool? I have not found a better explanation than Paul Graham‘s post on “Equity Equation“, it is a long post but it is worth every word a read and a re-read. Here are some excerpts, all the answers to allocation comes to a simple equation:

1/(1 – n)

Whenever you’re trading stock in your company for anything, whether it’s money or an employee or a deal with another company, the test for whether to do it is the same. You should give up n% of your company if what you trade it for improves your average outcome enough that the (100 – n)% you have left is worth more than the whole company was before.

For example, suppose you’re just two founders and you want to hire an additional hacker who’s so good you feel he’ll increase the average outcome of the whole company by 20%. n = (1.2 – 1)/1.2 = .167. So you’ll break even if you trade 16.7% of the company for him.

Let’s run through an example. Suppose the company wants to make a “profit” of 50% on the new hire mentioned above. So subtract a third from 16.7% and we have 11.1% as his “retail” price. Suppose further that he’s going to cost $60k a year in salary and overhead, x 1.5 = $90k total. If the company’s valuation is $2 million, $90k is 4.5%. 11.1% – 4.5% = an offer of 6.6%.

And more generally, when you make any decision involving equity, run it through 1/(1 – n) to see if it makes sense. You should always feel richer after trading equity. If the trade didn’t increase the value of your remaining shares enough to put you net ahead, you wouldn’t have (or shouldn’t have) done it.

You can see how this can be plugged into a performance management process within your team. The above equation and method is very effective. You allocate the options based on the level of contribution the team members make and if you make the measurements simple and visible, it makes the compensation system transparant, aligns and motivates the team as well. I have a philosophy when it comes to recruiting and compensation, all the benefits, salary, options etc is only for the team members to show up… in order to build a winning team everyone needs to volunteer their hearts and minds. The simple parts of making the team to show up is easy the hard part is to find a purpose or cause that is so important and bigger than each of us that it makes the team aligned and enables them to volunteer their most valuable resource which their hearts and minds. How are you making your team volunteer their hearts and their minds?

Why build a Startup Community?

I started on this long term view that Iceland can be a fantastic place to create a Startup Community, some of my friends tell me that I

Image Source: Bloomberg TV

got desperate because I got fired from my banking job. Well, maybe… maybe not only time will tell whether this thesis is going to work or not. A lot of my actions towards engaging in the community and starting to push the envelop in Iceland are driven by well proven themes that have worked in other parts of the world. The famous statement made by everyone is “You don’t have a track record of building a startup community or starting a Venture Fund to invest in Startups“, well, that is true but neither did the first man who landed in Reykjavik or Iceland for the first time. Never the less he decided that he was going to live here. A community did get built and for all its flaws and issues Icelanders have a lot going for them compared to many other countries. Anyways, I digress… coming back to Startup Communities, Brad Feld‘s new book titled “Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City” is out and I believe it is a very clear road map of how to build a community, actually I want to say that Iceland already has a Startup Community and it was very clear to me when I met almost every entrepreneur after the Financial Collapse of 2008. All I am trying to do is to ensure that we implement the strategies outlined in the book. The famous question that follows is “Why are you doing this? what is in it for you?”, well let me think… I really don’t know, I want to follow Brad‘s advice on “Give – before you get anything back”. I have no expectation of what comes out of this exercise that I have undertaken but 10 years from now if we all can look back and say we were part of something that created a culture of entrepreneurialismwhere people living in Iceland or world over believed in themselves and created a sustainable system i.e a company or a business or a community that thrived and contributed to a better society then I think we can be proud of the effort and not only that we would have created a better environment for our children and our grandchildren… we would have created a legacy.

Image Source: TechStars.com

I come back to Steven Covey‘s teachings and the Legacy video that was provided as part of the resources section of the book “the 8th Habit”, I wish they had made it sharable… but it is not so if you want to see the video you need to register with at http://stevencovery.com and go to the Resources section and you should see the video link. I think those videos are inspiring and they are part of the 8th Habit book. Everyone needs to have a purpose in life and that drives us, I think all of us want To Live, To Love, To Learn and To Leave a Legacy. I think the purpose that I have undertaken for myself – “To Start a Sustainable Startup Community in Iceland” more or less addresses all those things. So, I am extremely selfish in being totally selfless in contributing my time, effort and resources… drives everyone around me crazy, but I just have a fire within that just wants me to push forward and I will continue to help any effort to support building a sustainable system in Iceland.

I plan to buy 100+ copies of the Startup Communities book, it should be available in Iceland in another couple of weeks, I think and I want to distribute it to every stakeholder that I think can contribute to building a sustainable startup ecosystem in Iceland. I am not going to stop there, I am going to talk to Brad and get connected with the publisher and make sure the book gets translated to Icelandic so those who are comfortable reading in Icelandic can also learn from this roadmap. The above video is of Brad, talking about the Boulder Thesis in Bloomberg… I think Brad is spot on. We have all those ingredients in Iceland, so what are you going to do to contribute?

The Cloud, Open Source, API and the new world

The world of software development is changing… there I have said it. Going with the thesis that “Software is going to Eat the World“, I believe it is important to give context to this notion. I started writing code a long time back, I am a closet geek i.e I like to make things and the command line does not scare me. I have seen the evolution of software development, adopted and been a pilgrim to a few religions only to learn that the market dictates which religious camp you should be part of. If you are with me so far then you understand what is going on in the software world. Lets continue on the context part, today everything that we do involves something to do with Software, you mobile phone, the car you drive, TV programs you are watching and how you get electricity into your home. Given the broad application of software, it is important to know that today the world of software is hyper connected i.e Software written in one environment talks to software written in another environment with small tweaks through what is called Application Programming Interfaces (API), the interoperability brings with it a huge network effects. This is not a universal phenomena because there are still those who believe that writing software that does not talk anyone who wants to talk to it is a viable business strategy, I think that camp is going to die… if you are working for a software company and your software product or service does not have an API, run to the hills because you will become the North Korea of the new world. I see you are still reading this post, which tells me that software is important to you, good.

I had interesting meetings with some software companies who still believe that they need to build walled gardens of applications that don’t interoperate with the external world through standard APIs. I pity those who think that way. In today’s world Open Transparant API is the currency because it expands your reach and product base and partnership. If your company’s value proposition is not tied to being open and interoperable, you are dead out of the door. The Open Source movement has spawned an army of software some that I use and would like to contribute to and others that I would not recommend to my mother. There is a wide chasm between what is usable and what is full of crap… that is the cost of open source, never the less the biggest value of open source is adoption and expanded ecosystems.  Internetis the largest ecosystem we have today and it is evolving it is built on open source, standards based API.

This image was selected as a picture of the we...

This image was selected as a picture of the week on the Farsi Wikipedia for the 13th week, 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another new movement is the ability to have access to server environments at a negligible cost compared to what it was 10 years back. Today anyone can sign up with a Cloud Provider like Amazon Web Services or GreenQloud (disclaimer: I am the CEO of GreenQloud and the entire stack of software that runs on GreenQloud is built using Open Source software and the team has contributed a lot to the open source community through Cloud.com) and spawn a server environment, build an application and launch it on the internet and start selling it. All this has been made possible by Open Source software and Standard based API and the Internet. You don’t have to buy software you may still need to install some software in the server environment but for those who know what they are doing it is pretty straight forward. So, startups today when they say they need to buy Hardware ie. Server computers, it better have a compelling reason. Many of the standard services we use today are running in the Cloud, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, DropBox etc even Apple has a cloud offering called iCloud and Microsoft is following that strategy is launching their own versions of cloud services Office365.com, outlook.com, Skydrive etc to name a few. This new world is here to stay, there is no turning back, are there going to be hiccups along the way absolutely… I have no doubts but this hyper connected world with Services available through all the devices we carry and have on us is huge step forward. As we all like to say you have seen nothing yet!

Fearless

I remember very distinctly when I was gripped with fear and experienced the chill the runs down ones spine… I experience it constantly when I think of all the permutations and combinations of things that can go wrong with being an investor and entrepreneur, a husband, a son and a father. I continue to believe that there is always a thin line between fear and courage. Ben Horowitz wrote about it. I have faced the fear of personal kind and professional kind, it is usually the helpless feeling that trips one over. I remember very distinctly the fear of loosing my Father exactly a year back on this very day. My dad passed away last year on September 19… it was a huge blow to me personally. My dad was my mentor and taught me everything I know about being an entrepreneur and it was ironic that he would constantly encourage me to be fearless and here I was standing outside the Intensive Care unit in a hospital in Chennai literally with sweat dripping down the back of my neck with fear that I am going to loose my father. It was the toughest event that I had to experience and I am sure everyone faces situations in their lives that jolts us to the core. The post is not about that but what one does when one is gripped with this feeling. I have recommended the book “The Road Less Travelled” by Dr.Scott Peck, where he talks about fear. Fear is a form of laziness, the laziness to act.

As entrepreneur we all go through times when everything looks like it is going to come crashing down but I believe that is just our fear telling us stories. Courage is action despite fear, fear the feeling is internal, everyone feels it even the most courageous person feels the fear, it is primal and ever present… it is the action that follows that defines who we are. As Ben says in his post

In life, everybody faces choices between doing what’s popular, easy, and wrong vs. doing what’s lonely, difficult, and right. These decisions intensify when you run a company, because the consequences get magnified 1,000 fold. 

Every time you make the hard, correct decision you become a bit more courageous and every time you make the easy, wrong decision you become a bit more cowardly.  If you are CEO, these choices will lead to a courageous or cowardly company.

Over the past 10 years, technological advances dramatically lowered the financial bar for starting a new company, but the courage bar for building a great company remains as high as it has ever been.

I believe we focus too much on the mechanics of starting up, building technology etc but we tend to forget that it is always about the people, the team, the collective fears, ambition, success or failure. If as participants in this life journey if we can empathize and act courageously, we may not always succeed or win but at the least we know we gave it our best.

Innovator’s Dilemma

English: Disruptive Technology Graph

English: Disruptive Technology Graph (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Been reading the book Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen. There are a couple of graphs in the book that really resonate with what is going on with the Mobile Device market. If you have not read this book, I highly recommend it. Clayton Christensen used the Hard Disk Drive Market to study a fundamental questions that were bugging him… the questions were:

  1. Why is success so difficult to sustain?
  2. Is successful innovation really as unpredictable as the data suggest?

It is fascinating to see how the evolution of the Hard Disk Market has been following the path that he wrote about 15 years back, the only thing that is different is that his prediction of disruptive technologies has just accelerated in their adoption in the market and making a number of “successful” of even “great” companies fail in the market place. I re-tweeted

@karaswisher: It’s Official: The Era of the Personal Computer Is Over http://dthin.gs/RT6rmo  long live the PC

You read the article and it shows the slow decline in the demand for Personal Computers and the explosion in demand for devices that are Smart (read has a micro processor), Connect (read wifi enabled) and Portable (light and can be carried anywhere). These devices are distributing the work one used to do only on their Personal Computers. I believe Mobile First, Web Second paradigm which to me was first introduced by Fred Wilson through his avc.com blog is so relevant and crucial for the survival of many the currently successful software as a service companies. However, I am sure that the “currently successful” companies will face the same challenges as the previously successful companies did. There are 5 principles that is given in the book are a given they don’t change over time and if companies i.e. managers of companies ignore these principles, it will definitely lead to them loosing in the market place. The principles are:

  1. Companies Depend on Customers and Investors for Resourceskey take away for startups and managers is that they DO NOT control the resources
  2. Small Markets Don’t Solve the Growth Needs of Large Companies – key take away for a large company manager is not to wait until a market is “large enough to be interesting” but invest in smaller companies that are going after these small markets
  3. Markets that Don’t Exist Can’t Be Analyzedusing proven market research and business planning to understand disruptive technologies leading to new markets have a dismal record of predicting the trajectory. Key take away for established organizations is don’t waste time in trying to analyze the market, adopt a lean startup or customer development approach or invest in companies that are doing that
  4. Organization‘s Capabilities Define Its Disabilitieskey take away an organizations capabilities resides in two places, its PROCESSES and VALUES. The very processes and values that constitute an organization’s capabilities in one context, define its disabilities in another context.
  5. Technology Supply May Not Equal Market Demandunderstanding the difference between Sustaining and Disruptive technology adoption in the market is key to understanding the technology supply to market demand interaction. Established companies are moving so high up the value chain that they underestimate the new market at the lower end of the spectrum thereby giving rise to disruptive incumbents.

Picking winners in a farm of Black Swans

I love probability and statistics, yes I am weird. The whole notion of me starting to invest in Startups and Entrepreneurs started when I was mindlessly searching the Internet for Power Law examples and bumped into Fred Wilson’s blog post about Power Laws and returns in VC investing. I wrote a paper a while back on how every Aggregate Economic Variable more or less follows a Power Law like distribution and I took the case of the Icelandic Krona. There is no revelation there for

those of us who have been looking at this but for the mainstream this is news. Nassim Taleb wrote a book on this and it did quite well. Now Paul Graham has written about “Black Swan Farming” and at the same time Nassim Taleb is advising anyone wanting to go into the Investment Management business to stay away! This is all very interesting given our Icelandic context. I meet investment manager and VC investors all the time and I am just dumb founded when I hear them talk about how they can pick winners and they are doing a great job at capital allocation… what a bunch of crap! No-one knows, this is a crap shoot and I am happy that Paul Graham came out and said it. So what does one do? I wish I had enough capital to take bets on all the startups and entrepreneurs being formed in Iceland because there is no magic bullet to pick a winner, as Paul says in post:

The probability that a startup will make it big is not simply a constant fraction of the probability that they will succeed at all.

The fact that the best ideas seem like bad ideas makes it even harder to recognize the big winners. It means the probability of a startup making it really big is not merely not a constant fraction of the probability that it will succeed, but that the startups with a high probability of the former will seem to have a disproportionately low probability of the latter.

Wait, it gets worse. You not only have to solve this hard problem, but you have to do it with no indication of whether you’re succeeding. When you pick a big winner, you won’t know it for two years.

Meanwhile, the one thing you can measure is dangerously misleading. The one thing we can track precisely is how well the startups in each batch do at fundraising after Demo Day. But we know that’s the wrong metric. There’s no correlation between the percentage of startups that raise money and the metric that does matter financially, whether that batch of startups contains a big winner or not.

There is only one way to build a startup ecosystem, winners from the previous generation in the community need to invest back into the community. I wish more of Icelandic successful entrepreneurs would invest back into the new generation. Maybe the problem is that there has not been a big enough exit for that to happen or maybe it has, but I see a huge potential for Venture Backed investments in Iceland because every Entrepreneur I meet could be a winner, I wish I could pick a winner. I know I cannot, I am at peace with that… I pity those who think they know better.

What does it mean to Execute?

I was very impressed with the blog post by Ben Kaufman titled “What Raising Money Means to Me“. I believe personal stories tied to the ups and downs of building a business are always fascinating to read. Ben is young, went through the Paul Graham’s Startup Curve and I believe has had his awakening. You can see it in his passion and language

quirky.com About Team

My grandfather called me to congratulate me on building a successful company. We still hadn’t done shit. We just got some dude to write a check.

Things I have learned from closing rounds & announcing funding:

  1. Be bigger than your round: If the press is only writing about how much money you raised, it’s because you haven’t done anything bigger. That’s on you and your team. Work your ass off to make sure the money is not the news. You should be really fucking uncomfortable if the money you raised overshadows the work you’ve done. It scares the shit out of me every night. Still does. Don’t rest on your round. Fight your round, be bigger than it. Make people forget that time you raised money.
  2. Lead through it: The way you carry yourself through the announcement of a financing has a huge effect on your team and community. If you pretend it’s the coolest biggest deal in the world- they will too. Suddenly, all the hard work they are putting into launching a new product is out-shined by the fact that you got someone to write a check. As some illusion of success is felt, the collective level of hustle will naturally wane.
  3. Be insecure: When I sign a term-sheet, I get angry and uncomfortable. “Shit, ok no excuses anymore–I gotta do this.” There is an immense sense of responsibility. Let your team feel your stress, your angst, your hunger. The passion of all around you will go through the roof. People won’t just throw money at problems, they’ll work with the same scrappiness and drive that got you this far. You don’t have to pretend you’re a big fucking deal. You’re not (yet). Be insecure.
  4. Congratulations: Don’t congratulate people for raising money. That was never the goal. The goal is building a successful and meaningful business. When people raise money, instead of congratulating them, wish them luck. Their work is just getting started.Congratulating people for financing perpetuates a problem that has plagued the startup world. The problem is that that it’s easy to focus on the hype surrounding a company, and lose sight of the fundamentals. This is why our industry is flooded with what I call “startup fuckers.” These are people whose only ambition in life is to raise money, and then sell their company. They have no real interest in building a meaningful and enduring business. If we let startup fuckers dominate, we all lose. Read TechCrunch and any other “deal blog” and you’ll see countless companies boasting about how much money they’ve raised and how great they are as a result. It’s bullshit. They’ve done nothing (yet). Don’t fall into the trap of congratulating them. This is my favorite startup quote of all time (although I don’t know who said it): “Congratulating an entrepreneur for raising money is like congratulating a chef for buying the ingredients.” That says it all.
  5. Put your ass on the line. Lay out clear goals for your users and staff as to what you hope to achieve with this round of funding: why you’ve raised the money, what you’ll do with it, and how the collective performance of everyone involved can be measured. Even if the money is news in the short term, you’ll have something to point to. “Judge me on this.” Some say under-promise / over-deliver. That’s fine. But do promise something, otherwise everyone will make up their own mind about how much your round should let you accomplish.

The above 5 points says it all. I have written a lot about not putting emphasis on raising money, it is distracting and gives a wrong sense of accomplishment. I think every startup should be focused on building something of value, solving a tough problem, don’t give into the hype of TechCruch or the Media although I think the Media and everything else comes to you when you are able to really Execute on the solution to the problem that your startup was founded on. Being an Entrepreneur is always about juggling priorities and ensuring that you are making slow progress but one cannot take the eye from the ball about Executing on the promise to your customer, your partner or your investors. That is what I saw in the post by Ben. Having the discipline to Be Bigger than Raising Money is hard when you are 25, I really take my hat off to Ben Kaufman. I wish all entrepreneurs to learn the same wisdom.

Entrepreneurship is hard but you can’t die

I always enjoy Steve Blank‘s blog, this one is a classic… I think, because he is talking about his personal experience of being in a War. I think we over emphasize the magnitude of the challenges we face while being an Entrepreneur, I think this blog post is a good reminder that there are things much bigger, more important or with much dire consequences than being an Entrepreneur. So the next time you are facing a really tough time reach out to this post and read the last few paragraphs.

Epilogue

Image Source: Steve Blank Blog via centurywings.com

Captain Jeremiah Costello and his A-7D was the last attack aircraft shot down in the Vietnam War.

Less then ninety days later the air war over Southeast Asia ended.

For the rest of my career when things got tough in a startup (being yelled at, working until I dropped, running out of money, being on both ends of stupid decisions, pushing people to their limits, etc.), I would vividly remember seeing that empty spot on the flightline. It put everything in perspective.

Entrepreneurship is hard but you can’t die.

via Entrepreneurship is hard but you can’t die.