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The Most Important Startup Word: HOPE – Matt Douglas


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Matt Douglas, Founder and CEO of Punchbowl.com

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The Most Important Startup Word: HOPE

There are many words that are important to a startup: revenue, customers, employees, investors, service — but I’ll argue that no word is more important than the word “hope.” What do you think? Is there a word that’s more important in a startup?

Allow me to explain why I believe that “hope” is so important…

When you begin the journey of a startup, you don’t have very much that is concrete. In fact, for the first year of Punchbowl, I didn’t tell anyone that I was working on a startup. But I had a lot of hope — hope that I could figure it out, hope that I could find some developers willing to help me, and hope that I would be able to tell a story that would attract investors.

Many months later, I was finally ready to launch the product to the world. Would users like the product? Would we get any press coverage? I had no idea, and lots of worry and anxiety. But I also had a lot of hope, and that sustained me in the early days.

Fast forward to the months I spent raising money and meeting with potential investors. The process of fund-raising is one of the most brutal things an entrepreneur can go through. Meeting after meeting, rejection after rejection. How can I possibly pick myself up and show up at the next meeting? Why should I bother taking that next phone call? Why? Because of hope. Hope that this this phone call will result in a meeting with the decision makers. Hope that my company will be one of the very, very few that is able to raise money for their startup.

And what happens after you raise $3M in venture funding? You have to move forward, build your product, and work on earning as much revenue as possible. Your investors will ask you lots of questions, and probe hard to find the holes in your plan. And guess what? You don’t have all of the answers. But you will have a lot of hope.

As I sit here writing this today, as the CEO of my own growing startup, there are many things that I’m worried about. I don’t know how we can grow faster, I worry about the overall economy, and I’m nervous about my ability to raise a third round of funding. But I believe in myself because I have hope.

There is no more important word in the world of startups than hope. You can have investors, revenue, customers, and all of the critical praise in the world. But there will always be the next milestone and the next challenge ahead. Hope can get you there.

What do you think? Is there a more important word to a startup than hope?

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©2020 Matt Douglas

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