Yesterday I received a note from a founder that I advise that they are shutting down their company, returning what remains of funds, and winding down the service. It is an unfortunate but common outcome amongst startups of all types – in this case a venture backed team that was onto something in a big way. It is a far departure from their meteoric rise, subsequent revenue, and investment from third parties. While the investment moment seems like a goal to be reached, it was in fact only the beginning and the hard parts were in front of them.
I almost immediately scheduled some in person time and called this founder to see how they were doing. This can be an incredibly tough time for anyone, but especially hard when it seems identity and self are so tied to a startup that you spend every waking hour on. What stood out was the thanks for “being there on day 1 and now the last day” – appreciated but wrong. I told them point blank that while this journey was behind, the next chapter is ahead. That in fact their day 1 is today. I experienced my own day 1 which is both thrilling and scary.
When looking back on this time I summarized all the incredible qualities they now possess that they will take with them into any future role – no matter what it is:
- How to set the vision for a company and recruit people into “nothing”
- How to turn funds into a product that generated $XX MRR
- How to set goals and hold people accountable
- How to fundraise
- How to build a business, then pivot into what is working best
- How to hire/fire a team
- How to scale a company – now wind it down
The list could go on, but this is an INCREDIBLE skillset that most would love to have within their operation. Whether venture scale or not, these are things that are valuable to many.
While written about about this founder, I think about his journey as invaluable – the relationships generated along the way, the lessons learned, and the knowledge they will bring forward. I can only look through my own lens and think that through the fire can come great things.