Joseph Choe

Foundering Down to the Ground

I was once a co-founder of a startup.

I won’t go into what we did or why or how or any of the gory details. Though I may save that for later reflection, as there were many different lessons I learned during the two years I worked on the project.

No, my main takeaway from that whole experience was that at the end of the day, the only person you can depend on is yourself.

You can be slaving away at the computer, working furiously trying to get this mammoth undertaking off the ground, and your co-founder doesn’t really seem to be doing anything from week to week.

It’s a bit like when you’re at school, and you feel like your homework partner is only there to coast off your hard work.

I used to think that when you’re someone like me whose skills mostly revolve around technical stuff, you need someone to handle the business side of things. Someone to fundraise and to glad-hand the necessary people and so forth.

And maybe you still do. But what you should really do is to find a way to gain those skills for yourself so you don’t need to rely on someone else to do that for you.

Because inevitably they’ll disappoint you.

If I ever do try to build a startup again, I think what I’ll probably do is to do it myself. It’s not that I don’t think that other co-founders can’t serve in vital roles, because they obviously, certainly can.

But it’s about managing your dependencies. The less moving parts you have to keep track of, the better off you’ll be.