In the world of venture capital and startups, there’s always an ongoing dialogue of value and power, perceived and real. Because founders and VCs spend all of their time in a human-behavioral cluster where the sole focus is on equity, they often act in ways that are fundamentally broken. I’m writing this today, with the blessing of a brother and friend, to call out some truth that I believe many in our industry need to hear.
My message to VCs reading this: Founders are more than their companies, and truly honoring them is not just something to think about. It’s a requirement of the role you’re privileged to have. My message to founders: You’re more than your companies. It’s that simple. While you likely have poured and will continue to pour your lifeblood into the pursuit of your vision every chance you get, you have been, you are, and you always will be more than the business.
In venture capital I hear many of my colleagues, myself included, talk a lot about empathy. I’ve had limited experience as an operator, but I still question my own ability to truly have empathy for what founders often go through — just to get a shot at their massive, game changing, odds-stacked-against-them dream. Sure, many of us affectionately talk about the months of not taking a salary and maybe trading in a restaurant meal for some cup noodles … but I’m talking about understanding the tough conversations with a husband, partner, or wife … begging for the trust to let you do this stupid thing. I’m talking about not just going without salary, but doing so when you haven’t already “made it” … AND blowing out your savings … AND going into serious debt. I’m talking about never not working, missing out on your kids, your significant other, your health. I’m talking about the emotional exhaustion of finding a ride or die co-founder, and truly, truly being ride or die. I’m talking about accepting money from friends and family who are just betting on you for the sake of you, and knowing that for them the money they’re giving you … it’s not small. I’m talking about with every moment of doubt along the journey having to find the strength, determination, and conviction to not just carry your own emotional well-being, but that of all those who’ve trusted you. Read the full story here.