Why I'm working on a startup

Recently, I sat down with my friend Tim Wu. He’s a fellow founder who wanted to pick my brain on a couple things when out of the blue, he asked me why I’m working on a startup.

This hit me like a ton of bricks. I’ve been in the game for almost seven years now. I’ve spent more of my career working on startups than not. I forgot about the other, “job job” path. By talking it out, I reminded myself why I do what I do:

  • Risk. It goes against every bone in my body to pursue something that I don’t fear. If I’m not scared, I’m comfortable. If I’m comfortable, I’m not challenging myself. I can be comfortable when I’m old and dying.

  • Control. I’m in a place where I can take a vision, persuade others to believe in it, and then bring it to a reality. There’s not a lot of occupations that let you do that; politics seems to be the closest. That control gets shared over time, as it should, but I still get to play a significant role as a founder.

  • Scale. We’re living in a historic period where it is easier than ever to distribute your product or service to the wider world. I want to have impact. I want to improve a lot of lives in a small way. I think that building a startup is one of the best ways I can do that.

  • Money. I want to make a lot of it for myself. I want to make a lot of it for others. I’ll probably use some of the money for a better lifestyle, but not much; I live a pretty comfortable life. I want to use the rest to move the needle on causes I care about. Things like teaching kids how to code and getting rid of plastic from our seas. It’s too far away to think about in detail but this is how I see the second half of my career playing out.

Written on February 22, 2020