Where’s My Billion Dollar Check, I Wonder
When a blockbuster deal happens, a lot of people get excited. The press is all over it, money comes pouring into startups in search of the next one, people quit jobs and school to get in the game. It's a gold rush.
But there's another reaction that I have heard a lot in the past few weeks that is quite different. It is "why not me?" The title of this post is from an email between me and an entrepreneur I know who will go nameless.
It sums up the emotion so well for me.
Startups are hard. They require great sacrifice from everyone. They are stressful and fail more often than they succeed.
And when you've been toiling away month after month, year after year, with no pot of gold in sight, it can be hard to watch that billion dollar deal go down. It's a punch to the gut. It hurts.
I'd love to say to all of you who are feeling that pain that your time will come. But most likely it will not. That's the way this game is played.
Over the history of the institutional VC business (the past 40 years) the number of companies started every year that turn out to be worth billions sustainably is in the tens not the hundreds. If you are looking for a billion dollar check in the startup game, you are playing for lottery odds.
So if you are doing the startup game for money, and lots of it, you are in for a plate full of frustration. It must be for more than that. It must be for the love of the game, a passion for what you are bringing to market, and for the chance that you will hit paydirt. But it is a lot more likely that you will watch someone else hit the big payday than hitting it yourself. And that sucks.