Source | LinkedIn : By Oded Israeli
It’s time to hang up my boots. But I don’t have boots. I have a T-shirt. Actually, several branded T-shirts, which I wore proudly almost every day for the last 18 months. I wore them in the sun and in the rain, at the office and on business trips, when we won startup competitions, got accepted to top acceleration programs, raised seed capital, and appeared on TV shows… but I also wore them when we didn’t – when it was tough, frustrating, or just was. I love my shirts, but now that it’s over, it would be quite depressing for me to put them on again.
Everybody knows the stats. Only 2.5% of startups succeed. But who cares about statistics anyway? Every day we read about another startup making a successful exit. Every other day, one of our friends announces that she raised millions in VC funding. These stories fill us with joy and vigor – it’s possible, it’s happening, we just have to stay the course, focus, work hard, keep trying, and it will come upon us too…
The sad truth is that the vast majority of startups shut down, in a sad and quiet demise, but we never hear them falling.
But for 97% of startups, the story doesn’t end this way. The sad truth is that the vast majority of startups shut down, in a sad and quiet demise, but we never hear them falling. Most startups never get funding and shut down. Three out of four lucky startups that do raise capital, like ours, will sooner or later, for one reason or another, also shut down. And though it’s the most common startup story, we won’t hear about it on the news. It’s not cheerful enough for our social feed. It’s not a glamorous selfie moment. But it happens and it sucks.
My startup Qualy is now part of the statistics, on that common unfortunate side. Our startup is finished, done, liquidated, over. It will not accomplish its mission. It will not become a household name. It will not change the world. It is what it is and that’s it. Yeah, the chances were against us. You’re right, the most successful billionaires mention their failed attempts as a stepping stone to their eventual success… All true, but it gives me no consolation. My sorrow isn’t halved. Right now, it feels like shit. I feel sad. Accountable. Sorry. Disappointed. Empty.
Don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine in no time. I’m not broken or crushed. I’ve been through breakups and injuries that hurt much more than closing a startup, and I survived. I don’t pity myself. I know what I’m worth. Since this experience doesn’t kill me, it obviously makes me stronger.
You’d expect that I learned my lesson about startups. You’re right. I will most probably do it again — found another startup, join a startup, help startups, invest in startups, or all of the above. Even if it’s financially questionable, it’s worth it for a thousand other reasons. It’s exciting, purposeful, and motivating. It’s a lot of fun. It’s a bug that’s in me. It’s something that I want to do, something that I can do. If I only remember at my advanced age to implement a fraction of what I’ve learned on this journey, then maybe, just maybe, in a 2.5% likelihood, the outcome might also be different the next time around…
Some things aren’t lost when you close a company. Like friendship. I want to thank my friends and partners in crime who contributed from their time, talent, and advice for the success of this endeavor. We tried. I’m forever grateful and proud of what we’ve managed to accomplish, and I’m sorry that we didn’t do better. I also feel lucky. Lucky to have you as friends, lucky to have had the opportunity to go after my dream for a while, lucky to be able to dream again.