Should You Do a Startup? I Have No Idea

I just read this platitudinous article about a keynote given by the founder of Evernote, in which he says that *you* shouldn’t do a startup:

I’ve narrowed it down, really boiled it down, to one core piece of advice. If I can only say one thing, and I don’t know you any better, it’s: don’t. Don’t do it. Seriously.

My first thought was: “who is this guy to tell me what I should or shouldn’t do?” This sounds very disingenuous to me. It seems to me that Phil Libin thinks he’s got the right stuff, so he did a startup and he’s doing well. The rest of us probably don’t have what it takes, so we should go work for the man or whatever.

You won’t find any advice in this post. It’s just one of my usual rants. As you may know, I’ve done a startup. A successful one, by all measures that matter to me. We built a product, we had a great team, happy customers. We had a good exit and we made a fair amount of money. I like money. Money is good. Do you like money too? We should hang out some time.

Still, startup life mostly sucked. Making money is nice, but it’s neither necessary nor sufficient for having a fulfilling existence. When people ask me if they should do a startup, I tell them that I have no idea. What the hell is a startup anyway? At this point it’s become of those diluted, subjective terms like “freedom” or “happiness.”

Do you want to change the world? In that case what you want is a revolution, not a startup. Good luck with that. Do you want to be rich and famous? There are a plethora of ways. Do you want to build cool stuff? You can do that while working for The Man, or as a hobby.

I personally never liked working for big corporations, and that’s the reason I started my company in 2005. I’d worked for a few BigCos in my time, and it sucked. Come to think of it, it sucked even more than running my own startup later on. Still, I don’t know if I’ll ever do a startup again. If it do it though, it will be for the thrill of the game.

Phil says the only valid reason to do a startup is to “change the world.” Ok, in that case we’d all love to see the plan 🙂


Beatles – Revolution by harrison73

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4 Replies to “Should You Do a Startup? I Have No Idea”

  1. Wonderful post but I was wondering if you could write a litte more about last minute deals, houses for sale and blank bill of sale? I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit further. Appreciate it!

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