Being unwilling to fail.
Personally, I never thought I was good enough to be a founder. I never thought I could do it myself. I was pretty happy to be the right hand to a few great founders. I was good at it. That was pretty great as it was.
Then, I joined a start-up that had just raised $50m+ and had $30m+ in customer contracts. Or so I thought. Within 30 days of joining, the term sheet was pulled. And it turned out, all the customer contracts were just drafts. And were canceled.
From $50m in funding + $30m in revenue to $0 in funding and $0 in revenue in my first 60 days on the job.
Well, what could we do?
First, I helped the CEO raise another $30m. That wasn’t easy, let me tell you. But it helped him live to fight another day. And ultimately, IPO.
And then I needed to do something so we’d not fail, beyond the money. So my co-founder and I grabbed and licensed some technology they had developed and put on the shelf. Literally. The shelf was actually dusty with this lab project that was never finished.
We raised $9m to restart the project, founded our own company around it, and sold it for $50m (net of cash) 12.5 months later. Wilson Greatbatch Technologies, Inc. Announces Acquisition of NanoGram Devices Corporation
But we did it not so much to start something. But so that we wouldn’t fail.
That worked, too.