Over the past 20 years I have founded and funded numerous technology startups. During that time I have seen a clear pattern emerging: startup failure has become an accepted industry norm, and it has an impact that reaches far beyond financial loss to investors. Having experienced my own journey of failure as a founder more than once, I have felt the very real, deep, personal impact of that failure on me, my family and my colleagues.
As I sat at home, licking my wounds from my most recent startup failure, the thought of writing this book took hold — and it soon became an obsession for me. I started talking to founders, and what they shared with me didn’t surprise me at all. Many of the first-time founders I spoke to were lost, with no map to guide them; even the more experienced founders, burnt out or stressed out, felt alone, isolated, with nowhere to turn for support. I was determined to write a book on startup failure by a founder for founders.
I quickly discovered that startup failure is ingrained in the ecosystem. Concepts such as ‘fail fast’, misunderstood and misapplied, are thrown around without much thought. The traditional venture capitalist approach to failure is to place a lot of bets on the understanding that, while most ventures will fail, a very few may turn out to be ‘unicorns’ and return vast profits that will make up for all the losses. It is a very wasteful approach.
The financial waste in failed startups is fairly ...