When a startup dies, so does a version of the future
When a startup dies, the version of the world that the founders were building disappears.
To an objective person, they don’t care because millions of ideas die every year. They didn’t feel the impact of the startup, so they won't miss it. But if you told someone Airbnb was going to go out of business tomorrow, we would all feel pretty sad. We’ve mostly all used it and love the brand/service.
But what if Airbnb died back before they were slinging Obama O’s ? What if they never got into Y Combinator? What does a world without Airbnb look like, if it never even got the chance to get off the ground? I have no idea, and I don’t want to know. But remember, every founder has a vision like Airbnb, but only a few get to see it through. All those versions of the future disappear, but Airbnb’s founders persevered and now we get to benefit from their vision from over a decade ago.
So, when you’re on the cusp of failure. You’re out of money, out of will, and out of time. Ask yourself a simple question. Can you live in the future where your vision doesn’t come to life? Where the ripples of your product don’t permeate anyone or anything but your imagination? Can you let that version of the future go? If so, you can let the startup go as well. But if you can’t, I have another message for you.
Startups don’t die when they run out of money. They die when the founder gives up. As long as you have a spark in your eye, and a belief that the world needs what you’re building, keep going. Always be smart. Listen to customers, iterate to build something people want. Don’t be blindly optimistic. But, if you can’t stand the future where your product doesn’t win, then don’t let it lose.