Startups and Downs

Wish granted.

There are a lot of cool things about having a startup.

It’s exciting to create something new – and especially rewarding when it’s a product like we’ve got here at 7 Generation Games where we actually believe the work we’re doing can have a positive impact on our society.

You get to largely set your own schedule.

You don’t have to do pointless employee performance reviews where you’re not supposed to give someone doing an excellent job “too high” a score because that would throw off some arbitrary HR system.

You’re not beholden to some completely inefficient “that’s just the way we’ve always done it” mentality – if you think you can do it better, then you just do it better.

Those are the ups. The shiny side of startup life if you will. The images depicted with the startup founders in their oversize lofts with trendy coffee machines and ping-pong tables.

And while there is certainly an upside to launching your own company, the reality is less glamorous.

We often joke at what a riveting reality show 7 Generation Games would make for this exact reason. For example, here’s what regular week looks like for us at work.

It’s 10-16 hours a day of this.

And this.

But we’ve got jokes. We have regular meetings via Google+ Hangouts – where we occasionally  make use of the “Effects” tool

Sometimes we travel. And we go places where the weather is like this.

And go to meetings. 

And conference sessions.

And classrooms.

That is when we’re not delayed in airports.

When you get your Kickstarter funded or learn you got $450,000 in grant funding, it’s an incredible feeling. With every sale or new user, there’s a vindication.

But it’s not all dollars raining from the sky and lines for your product as long as those at the iPhone launch.

There’s a lot of being shot down. As a fellow entrepreneur said to me yesterday when I asked how a recent investor pitch had gone, “There’s nothing like getting up in front of a room and having your soul crushed.”

There are moments like this one where we learned that we didn’t get accepted for something we were hoping we’d get.

Thank you so much for applying to XXXX. And congratulations…

(EDITOR’S NOTE: at this point we’re like “Yes!” and about to do a celebratory dance in Office Max. But alas, that’s why they always teach you to read all the way to the end…)

…on being part of the movement to improve education for millions of students around the world.

Suddenly the confusion sets in. That moment, where you go, “Uh huh…” Then wait.

Another 100 words over two more paragraphs into the email, you get to the actual “you were not selected” line – talk about burying the lede. (Note to self and anyone else who might ever be sending rejection notes in the future: Get right into it. People appreciate that. Also, avoid congratulations when you are rejecting someone – people see congratulations and think there’s a reason to be celebratory. Go figure.)

And you do get rejected. And rejected. And rejected.

(That tweet actually makes us feel better.)

The point of this post isn’t to be a lecture as to how much of a grind it is to launch a company. It’s not to lament how hard it is running a startup. It’s not to complain about how depressing it is to get rejected. It’s not about saying startup life sucks – if it did, we wouldn’t be putting in countless unpaid and underpaid hours to make our company work.

It’s just to say that there are good days, there are boring days, there are exciting days, there are days when you want to smash your laptop against the wall.

The reality is startup life is pretty awesome, except for the times when it’s not.