Yesterday Singularity University welcomed their 2015 Graduate Studies Program class to their 10 week adventure in changing the world and building an amazing company in the process. In today’s kick-off session about entrepreneurship we talked about the main reason I see startups fail:
- Product doesn’t work
- Missing product/market fit
- Team implodes
Entrepreneurs typically focus on the first two — and forget about the third one. The first two are mechanical — you can often fix them if you follow the right path (not saying that it’s easy). Team dynamics are hard, as humans are messy. There is no clear path, no “Lean Startup”-way to get to your MVP, no d.school online course you can skim to get the gist of doing this right.
It comes down to investing the time and emotional energy into your relationship with your cofounders. It’s about being vulnerable and brave, about saying and hearing the hard things. About being honest, fair and forgiving.
Understand, going into this, that you will spend more time with your cofounder than your partner or spouse. And for longer: Your typical startups takes 7–10 years to mature to the point where the founders step out. That’s a long time for being with someone whom you don’t see and treat as family.