I’ve just read your post on how to know when to leave your startup on VentureBeat, and I wanted to ask you a question, if you don’t mind.
We completely bootstrapped our start up for 1.5 years. We’ve got a beta product, about 5 companies using our product successfully, and over 600 companies signed up to try it.

The problem is all three of our co-founders are at financial and emotional exhaustion and the two married ones including myself at marital exhaustion.

We are working to raise seed round, but we keep hearing that we don’t have enough traction just yet (paying customers will be highly desirable) and our runway is only a month at most. At the same time, we don’t want to give up, because we get a lot of very position reviews from people signing up for our product.

I was wondering if you might have any general advice? You seem to be able to raise money, do you have any advice in regards to that?

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3 replies
  1. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    There are a lot of people who lose a marriage for a startup. A lot of founders don’t actually care. Like, when they look back, they say it was worth it. I bootstrapped my startup for four years and then got millions of dollars in funding. But I lost my marriage. I would not say it was worth it.

    The sacrifices that startup founders make are incredible. They lose most of their friends, they lose all their credit, and a lot of them lose their minds from lack of sleep, lack of stability, etc. People don’t write about this. It doesn’t sound good. And, you have to always make it sound like your company is great, so you can’t say also that you’re losing your mind. But most startup founders are.

    I think if you want to save your marriage, you should go get a job. If you want, more than anything in the world, to make your company work, then you should be willing to lose everything to do it.

    Most startups that get off the ground have founders who literally have nothing to lose – no money, no spouse, no life, because they are so young. Or it’s founders who got funding early and did not have to suffer. It sounds like you do not fall into either of those sets of people.

    I hope this gives you perspective. No one can tell you when it’s time to go get a job. But people can tell you what you will lose and what you will gain with each decision you make. I hope I’ve helped in that regard.

    Penelope

  2. Submit Your Startup
    Submit Your Startup says:

    Startup culture idolizes people who quit everything and instantly commit 100% to a new venture. Realistically, many of us who want to start a business of our own aren’t in a position to do this, because of responsibilities we have to others. And rarely are the best potential co-founders unengaged with other projects. But I would never again want to be a founder of a startup I wasn’t able to bring 100% of my time to.

  3. Laura Hamilton
    Laura Hamilton says:

    Can you try to convert the 600 sign ups into paying customers? I would suggest being as aggressive as you can. If none will pay, that’s a bad sign.

    Another alternative is that 2 or 3 founders get jobs and work on the startup part time. If the marital exhaustion is due to financial issues, that should help. (If due to time/household duty sharing, not so much.)

    It’s tough to give advice without knowing anything about the company or your spouse. I would suggest talking to your husband/wife.

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