Death of a startup

Photo by Auchinoon

My old roommate Dave taught me snowboarding, and one thing he said stuck with me: "If you don’t fall down at least once every day, you’re not pushing yourself hard enough". (He also comforted me with the claim that "chicks dig scars" after I impaled my leg on a fencepost on my first day out.) One of the things I’ve found liberating here in the US compared to England is that it’s possible to fail without being labeled as a failure. On that topic Bob Sutton has a post on why "Am I a success or a failure?" is the wrong question to ask.

I’ve never been through the death-throes of a startup, but Visual Sciences, a games startup I worked at for four years, collapsed in a painful bankruptcy throwing a lot of good friends out of work. Andrew Hyde laments the sense of shame that still comes when you’re involved in a failed business, and like me wishes there were more post-mortems out there to help us all learn. Nick Napp, founder of the promising Disruptor Monkey, has taken that up that challenge with a post explaining what happened to the company. It’s tough because it’s an emotionally charged topic, and there’s always details that have to remain private, but he’s done a great job covering what he’s learnt. Now I guess it’s up to me to pick one of my own professional failures and return the favor.

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