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Authentic &
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Matt Douglas, Founder and CEO of Punchbowl.com

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Your Startup Sucks

Your startup sucks. You know how I know that? I just heard about it for a few minutes, and I have no idea how your product is different from the other dozen in your market. And you know what? There’s no way you can get customers to come to your new website. It’s too hard, it’s too expensive, and simply too crowded in your market.

By the way, you’ll never be able to hire the engineers and marketers you need to grow your startup. No potential employees will ever see the long-term potential of your idea, and no potential employee would EVER leave their stable job to come and join you. You’re better off finding some overseas engineers anyway. You’ll spend a lot less money, and you can fail smaller.

Your startup sucks. Yeah, I just read about it on TechCrunch, but I also read all of the comments. There were a lot of valid points in those comments, and I don’t know how you are going to possibly address all of them. If you don’t fix each and every one of them there is no way you can get the “early adopters” to use your product. And you know that you need the early adopters if you ever have the chance to cross over the chasm to the mainstream user.

Ok, I used your product. It’s nice, but I don’t think I would use it again. But I do have a list of features that I’d love to see you implement. Where should I send that list? How come you don’t have a feedback form for customers yet anyway? You really should get on that.

Oh, and you’ll never get funding for that startup. Investors want to see real traction, real sales, and real competitive barriers. You don’t have them. Trust me, I know what it takes to get funding for a startup, and there is no way you’ll ever get an investor to believe in your vision. How many investors have you even spoken to so far? Did anyone even talk about giving you a term sheet?

How do you plan to market your startup anyway? Do you have a Facebook strategy? Do you know how to use Twitter to drive traffic? There’s quite a bit of learning curve to understand what you need to do to be successful in social media marketing. If you don’t, you better hurry up and learn. Do you know anything about SEM or SEO? It sounds like you’re already way behind.

Who am I? I am everyone around you — everyone who thinks you can’t find a way to be successful. Everyone who doubts your vision, and can’t see the opportunity that you can see. I am an angel group, a VC investor, a tech blogger, or a colleague. I am your mentor, your friend, or your family member — everyone who doesn’t vocally support your efforts, and has no idea how lonely starting up a company can be. I am everyone but you.

This post is dedicated to everyone who is in the process of starting a new company or trying to grow their startup. Don’t look for outside validation. Don’t listen to those who doubt. Fuck them. Keep going. If you believe you can do it, that’s the only thing that matters.


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©2019 Matt Douglas