Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Magic Startup Moments

Startups are hard. There are a few moments in every startups life that feel magical and make the grind (at least temporarily) worth it. Magic startup moments include:

Your first customer payment.
It is not a coincidence that so many restaurants have their first $10 bill framed and hung on a wall. Finding someone who wants your product enough to pay for it, and making money from something you built with your own two hands feels good.

Your first magic executive.
As a startup matures, its leadership bench gets built out. Many first-time founders of managers tend to fight delegating to others. Or they promote "smart, junior athletes" to run a function like engineering or sales and watch them flounder (often while thinking the floundering is normal execution). Then, that magic moment happens - you hire a tried and true, excellent executive for a part of the company. Suddenly, great people get hired, the right initiatives are launched, and that area of the company starts to function incredibly well. This is often the moment when founders learn to delegate, and think "I want more people like her".

That special customer thank you.
Many companies change the lives of their customers for the better without realizing it. For mission-centric companies (for example a genomics company) deep, from-the-heart thank you notes from customers may arrive quite early. For other types of companies a thoughtful email or letter will suddenly show up thanking you for helping your customer and for making their lives better. These letters give you an incentive to keep going.

The sale.
The ends of things are often bittersweet. Successfully selling your company and feeling that you finally made it, that your employees have a stable place to work, that you made money for yourself, your family, and your investors, and that you can relax just a little bit, can be a truly magic moment.

The reunion.
Sometimes an employee will reach out to you years after they left your company to thank you for the formative experience they had working for you. Or, a bunch of "old timers" from the company's early days get together to swap stories and discuss what was and the crazy things your company did to ship that product, keep the lights on, or land that partnership.



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