1:04pm

Wed June 26, 2013
Planet Money

'My Startup Has 30 Days To Live'

Originally published on Wed June 26, 2013 1:38 pm

Yesterday, an anonymous, soon-to-be-failed entrepreneur started a blog called "My Startup Has 30 Days To Live." It's a good, bitter counterpoint to all the Silicon Valley hype.

In the first post, the founder blames himself for his company's imminent failure.

... when my startup fails, I can clearly say that I failed ... This week, I need to speak to the other founder and fire our first employee before he leaves on a planned vacation. He's a good developer, but I won't [expletive] make payroll next week if I don't clear him and his severance out of the company.

He also blames everybody else.

This is where we made the first in a series of many mistakes.

We listened to our investors

They were proven entrepreneurs that had made millions (sometimes nefariously...) and they believed in us. If only we would:

* "Make feature X free"

* "Stop focussing on revenue, someone else will pay the bills"

* "Grow $VANITY_METRIC so you can show a hockey stick at demo day and look good"

* "Cut out that pesky client that generates 80% of your revenue, they're a distraction on the road to executing $OUR_BIG_VISION"

This is the startup world we always hear about — investors, hockey sticks, demo day.

A few years ago, we talked with Marco Arment about a lesser-known, lower-key way to start a tech company. After leaving Tumblr, Marco started Instapaper, an app that makes it easy to read long stories on smartphones and tablets. As we wrote at the time:

This super simple-business model — sell a product for a few bucks to ordinary people — allows Marco to run Instapaper as a small business. He's still the only employee. He hasn't taken any outside funding for the company. And he likes it that way.

"My goal has never been to dominate the market," he says. "My goal has always just been to just make a living."

Still, even mom-and-pop shops have liquidity events. Earlier this year, Arment sold a majority stake in Instapaper for an undisclosed sum.

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