Q: What inspires founders to do it?

I think for most founders I know, the real reason they start a start-up is that it’s the most interesting and stimulating thing they can do. One way or another, most founders are builders.

  • It’s not really working for yourself. Most founders can in fact work for someone else, and have in the past. You always have a boss of some sort. Your board of directors is your boss if you are a CEO. You still have a boss.
  • It’s not really the money. You can make more money, risk adjusted, getting to be a VP at a Tech Leader. Or joining a hedge fund or i-bank and being successful there. Being a VP at Goldman Sachs will make you $Xm a year, every year. Go do that instead if you just want money.
  • Changing the world is part of it, but more for repeat founders. It’s hard to change the world in a 2 or 5 or 10 person start-up. At first, at best, you can modify it. Once you have a success and some $$$ under your belt, then you can think purely about changing the world.
  • It’s not just because you like start-ups. Then just go be COO or a VP at a successful start-up, rather than struggling against the odds just to make your pre-traction start-up a successful one. This is really the best way to go, logically. Join Facebook or Square or Twitter or whatever as a VP before IPO, after building the skills to get the job. Yes, the odds of getting these jobs are low. But they are much higher than starting Facebook yourself.

So I think the real reason has to be, you are sitting around, figuring out what to do (next) … and the best, most interesting thing you can do — is start something new. And figure out how to build it into something great.

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