Anatomy of a Start Up – Life In The Weeds Part II

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Anatomy of a Start Up – Life In The Weeds Part II

Anatomy of a Start Up – Life In The Weeds Part II

Continuing From In The Weeds Pt. 1

The second point about The Weeds stage I wanted to bring up is energy. Every day I bump into people who are so pumped up about their product or idea, that it seems like they have been snorting NoDoz for 72 hours. I don’t understand these people. They are like happy little elves, you just want to smack them.

Now I’m not talking about the start up phase here, because we all feel like that to begin with. Start Up is frenzy. It is a set constant firsts. First press coverage, first product roll-out, it is like raising an infant – everything is new. It is a constant adrenaline rush basically, you feel like you are going to change the world in some way.

No I am talking about the people who are four, five, six years in and are still gonzo over their idea. I don’t get these people. Now maybe that works well for them, and if so – great. For me four years in, the novelty has worn off. I still love what we have started, I love what we make, but I can’t be on that high anymore. It’s kind of like claiming that your are just experimenting with heroin in your forth four year. I hate to break it to you buddy, but four years in, what you got there is called a habit.

My feeling is that in The Weeds, you need to try and remove yourself from the extreme highs and lows of the startup. The Weeds are a grind   “ product development takes time, you have little freak outs where you panic that you may have invested four years of your life into this thing and you can’t see the horizon (stability, reward, etc.). In these moments it is essential that you not be riding the wave of startup adrenaline. On the good days you get all crazy (see the NoDoz reference above), and on the bad… well let’s just say the lows can sometimes be rough.

It is difficult, but these days I try and remain somewhere in the middle, avoiding the highs and lows that are so tempting. I try and socialize as much as I can where work is not the topic of conversation, where every interaction feels like something I should take advantage of in the work context. I am trying to find a set of things that have absolutely nothing to do with work to keep me grounded. I learned this lesson the hard way in the late 90’s trying to start a Non-Prof in San Francisco. The highs were high, but the lows were really hard, both on me and I assume the people around me. Live and learn.

Yet this is all fine and good, but somewhere you have to mix in enough passion to keep what your business moving forward, and that is an equally difficult task. So how to balance? Where do you find inspiration? Vacations help, they give you a little space to reinvigorate. But I was also recently was reminded of a good solution when I walked into a new cupcake business around the corner.

I am totally jealous of their simple business model   “bake cupcake, sell cupcake” how deliciously simple.

I managed to fight the crowds at the door on the first day, and said hello to one of the founders. Her eyes were bugging with excitement as they had sold out of their full day’s worth of cupcake supply in the first 45 minutes of opening. The space wasn’t quite done, and in the frenzy one of the guys who was building out the space (clearly a friend, or husband, or relation) stopped to pitch-in, running the cash register.

So much excitement, so much frenzy, I returned to the office with a proximity start up high…and of course an excellent Red Velvet cupcake.

Mmmm…Go on with your bad self Georgetown Cupcake.

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