Photo by USACE Europe District
You get into a lot of debt living off an anaemic salary and go bankrupt.
Your spouse breaks up with you.
You are fired from your own company by an outside CEO.
Your company is acquired, but at a level where only the investors get any money back.
Talking with an old startup colleague, I realized how many of our circle had been through rough times. All of these have happened to our close friends. In an abstract sense we always knew the odds, but it's different when you see it playing out in real time with people you care about. Startup failure is a lot easier to deal with as an abstract possibility than a looming likelihood. Until you've been through it, you can't imagine how messy and prolonged the death of a startup can be. The final end of my Mailana was mercifully quick, but the months leading up to it were one of the toughest times of my life.
The Valley doesn't like to talk about failure and pain, but you can't understand how precious the successes are without knowing how hard it can be. I feel extremely lucky and glad to be here at Jetpac now, but some of my friends genuinely regret the time they sank into their startups. Not all entrepreneurial careers have happy endings, and there's a difference between knowing that, and living it.