This is a modified version of an email I send to the team when joining a fast-growing company like ResQ. I’ve been fortunate to be part of a few successful startups in the last 23+ years, and some major failures. Hopefully the perspective will help!
Watching NASA astronauts going up to the space station onboard Space X’s Crew Dragon, I was reminded of my favourite metaphor for early stage startups. Despite being the safest space craft ever built, as it was accelerating to escape earth’s gravity, the inside was anything but calm. Extreme G forces caused shaking and rattling, and the astronauts, despite years of training, felt sick to their stomach at one point or another.
A lot of people (maybe too many) use the rocket ship analogy to describe startups, but few talk about the minor matter of sitting on multiple tonnes of rocket fuel that could go boom!
For those of us who have taken the startup journey many times, there’s no other way of life, because the only acceptable outcome is to get to space and to dock with the space station. Startup life is not for everyone, but if you can balance the highs and the lows, it’s the most rewarding career path there is. With over 22 years of startups under my belt, you can think of me as a “startup Yoda” of sorts.
The Canadian tech community has grown up a lot, and it’s certainly getting lots of attention recently, but it’s far from “there”. We have only created a small number global tech companies. I continue to work hard with the intention building the next great global tech company. Nothing less.
Do, or do not. There’s no try!
Steve Jobs once said: “everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you, and you can change it”. There’s nothing we can’t accomplish if we focus on it with ambition, hard work, smarts, perseverance, and passion. (and of course, a dose of luck).
Someone once told me that if you are invited to get on a rocket ship, you don’t ask “which seat?“, you just get on.
Video of Steve Jobs: https://youtu.be/kYfNvmF0Bqw